Bangalore: It is a crucial day for the Congress in Karnataka as by-polls began in Mandya and Bangalore Rural constituencies on Wednesday. It’s the first election in Karnataka after the Congress’s Siddaramaiah took over as CM and he has to prove himself to his party.
In a tough contest, the Congress is pitted against arch-rival JDS in two Lok Sabha by-elections – Mandya and Bangalore Rural – both strong Vokkaliga-regions that the JDS had reigned over until now. “People have taken a decision to vote against the Congress, so we’re going to win,” said JDS general secretary T Prabhakar.
These by-polls have also generated a lot of interest because they have brought together the JDS and the BJP in a tacit understanding. The BJP is not fielding candidates in these seats while the JDS is not contesting the council elections next week. These are adjustment politics that will perhaps lead to more adjustments before Lok Sabha 2014.
“We should send a message. It’s Congress vs BJP or Congress vs others. These are the two options. We should initiate somewhere, for that, we made a beginning in these elections,” said BJP leader Sadananda Gowda.
In order to combat the understanding between JDS and BJP, the Congress is looking at star power by fielding top actress Ramya in Mandya. But in neighbouring Bangalore Rural, the contest is a nail-biter, JDS leader HD Kumaraswamy’s wife Anitha against DK Suresh of the Congress, Suresh being the brother of prominent Vokkaliga Congress MLA DK Shivakumar.
“It shows that beyond the family circle, the JDS is not seeing candidates or leaders to build the party beyond the family,” said Congress President in the state G Parameshwara.As prestige and emotions take centrestage, this two-cornered battle has everyone on the edge.