Analysis: By-poll results a blow for the Congress

Analysis: By-poll results a blow for the Congress

Submitted by Editor on Tue, 2016-02-16 16:31 Bengaluru: The results of the by-polls in the state have turned to be a major embarrassment for the Congress, with the party suffering huge losses in Hebbal and Devadurga while managing to wrest Bidar from the BJP.But the defeat in Hebbal will rankle several senior Congress leaders for a long time. The discord within the party over the selection of candidate for the by-poll was out in the open, and it helped the BJP.Senior Congress leaders SM Krishna, Janardhana Poojary, BK Hariprasad, Jaffer Sheriff and Kharge thwarted chief minister Siddaramaiah’s attempt to field his man MLC Byrathi Suresh. The high command for the first time said no to the CM and went ahead with the choice of anti-Siddaramaiah camp and fielded former railway minister Jaffer Sheriff’s grandson, Rahman Sheriff.While the opposition BJP fell behind their candidate Narayana Swamy, the internal bickering within the Congress spilled out onto the streets with supporters of the Siddaramaiah camp and the anti-Siddaramaiah camp, reportedly, clashing with each other. Naturally, the lack of cohesiveness was fully exploited by the BJP.The hype over the Global Investors Meet in Bengaluru also did not pay off for the Congress. The two-pronged attack by the JD(S), firstly to expose Jaffer Sheriff’s alleged devious stratagems – he was reportedly in talks to field his grandson on a JD(S) ticket in case the Congress refused ticket – and taking a dig at the CM over expensive wristwatch might have also damaged the Congress.The BJP leaders, especially Katta Subrahmanya Naidu and family, seemed to be solidly behind the official candidate while Jaffer Sheriff did not even manage to swing Muslim votes towards his grandson. Nothing, neither money power nor votes of the Kuruba community came to the rescue of Rahman Sheriff.But Vokkaliga votes went completely to the BJP candidate, who is already an MLC.The result of the Devadurga constituency is also good news for the BJP as Shivanagowda Naik, a seasoned campaigner, had changed parties and was branded an opportunist. But the united effort of its leaders ultimately went in his favour and the party snatched the seat from the Congress, whose leaders remained over-confident.The BJP lost the powerful Bidar seat represented by the late Nagamarpalli as there were murmurs of dissensions within the party over the selection of candidate. Naturally, the Congress with its vast machinery and network benefitted with Rahim Khan defeating BJP's Prakash Khandre. The Bidar win proved a saving grace for the Congress.So what now for the Congress? The defeat in Hebbal could silence CM Siddaramaiah’s detractors for the time being. But while the CM may grow a little more assertive, his clout also hinges on the crucial zilla and taluk panchayat polls which are slated to be held on Feb 20. The by-poll results will have infused new life in the state BJP, which is expected to attack the government in the upcoming budget session. The wrist watch issue may also come back to haunt the chief minister in the future.