Karnataka: Congres bows to coalition politics

Bengaluru: In a clear sign that the Congress, attempting to portray a picture of an united coalition in the run up to upcoming polls, will not rock the boat in Karnataka, it has allowed its smaller regional partner to yet again walk away with a bigger slice of the cake -  ceding two of the three Lok Sabha seats up for bypolls on November 3.

The party threw up a surprise decision by allowing late chief minister S Bangarappa’s son and JD (S) leader Madhu Bangarappa to contest from Shivamogga, a bastion of the BJP, while also agreeing to a JD(S) candidate for the Mandya Lok Sabha constituency, only retaining Ballari for its candidate V S Ugrappa, MLC. This decision, however, was defended by KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao who cited the winnability criteria for allowing JD (S) to contest two of the three parliament seats.

A hint of this development was evident when Congress president Rahul Gandhi invited Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy for lunch along with top party leaders during his visit to Bengaluru on October 13.

Elaborating his party’s strategy, Mr Rao told the media: “Though the Congress had been consistently securing four lakh plus votes in the constituency (Shivamogga),  we have not won from this seat for a long time.

“He said the issue of seat-sharing and pre-poll alliance between the coalition partners was announced long ago and was also an affirmation of its earlier stand vis-a-vis its partners.

“We will sit and chalk out strategies to contest jointly in all 28 constituencies once these by-elections are over. We have some strengths, and so does the JD(S). We need to pool our strengths to defeat the BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha polls," he said.

Bypolls: it’s uphill for Congress

  • Joladarashi Shantha, the BJP candidate is expected to sweep the Nayaka dominated constituency, backed as she is by the Reddy mine barons. The Congress has fielded anti-illegal mine crusader V.C Ugrappa – also a Nayaka – for the November 3 Lok Sabha and assembly bypoll.
  • In Shivamogga, State BJP president, B.S. Yeddyurappa’s son, B.Y. Raghavendra, the front-runner filed his papers for the Shivamogga bypoll in the presence of senior BJP leader, K.S. Eshwarappa, MLA, Halappa and former MLC, Banuprakash.
  • Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy will stand alongside Madhu Bangarappa, son of late Chief Minister, S Bangarappa, as he files his nomination on Tuesday for the Shivamogga LS bypoll which will see no Congress candidate being fielded.

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