A day before the counting of votes polled in the byelections to two Assembly and three Lok Sabha seats, tension was palpable among the leaders of the Congress-JD(S) coalition and the BJP.
The results are being seen not just as an indicator of people’s mood ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, but also as something that may have a bearing on the stability of the coalition. This is even though the results, technically, cannot bring down the government by affecting its numerical strength.
Any upsets are bound to come as a morale booster for BJP State president B.S. Yeddyurappa, who has hinted at a fresh round of political instability after the results. This would obviously mean efforts to woo MLAs from the other side. At the same time, the ruling combine is trying to scuttle any such plans by making all-out efforts to make inroads into the BJP bastions of Ballari and Shivamogga. The intention appears to be to dent the image of Mr. Yeddyurappa in the eyes of his party’s central leaders so that he may not get the go-head to topple the government. The episode of the BJP candidate abruptly retiring from the contest in Ramanagaram is seen as part of this game plan.
On his part, Mr. Yeddyurappa is keen to prove he still holds political sway by wresting the Jamkhandi Assembly seat from the Congress.
The byelections, especially to the Lok Sabha seats, began as a drab political exercise. But they then turned into a high-stakes battle for various leaders as their political reputation and influence was on the line. The political influence of Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, Congress leaders Siddaramaiah and D.K. Shivakumar, and BJP leaders B. Sriramulu and Mr. Yeddyruappa is going to be tested when the votes are counted on Tuesday.
Bypolls are being held to Ramanagaram and Jamkhandi Assembly segments and Mandya, Ballari and Shivamogga Lok Sabha seats. While both the Assembly seats were held by the ruling coalition partners, two of the three Lok Sabha seats were held by the BJP; the JD(S) held the third.
While the Jamkhandi seat fell vacant following the death of Siddu Nyamagouda of the Congress, the Ramanagaram seat was vacated by Mr. Kumaraswamy, who also won from the neighbouring Channapatna. Bypolls to the three Lok Sabha seats were necessitated by the resignation by MPs on their election to the Assembly.