Congress candidates’ humiliating defeat in the Karnataka by poll has brought in open the chink that lies within the ruling party. Of the three assembly seats that went for by elections, the Congress lost two seats to its closest rival, the BJP. In Hebbal, the Congress candidate and former Railway Minister C K Jafar Sharief’s grandson Abdul Rehman Sharief was defeated summarily by BJP’s Y A Narayan Swamy. He lost by a margin of 19, 149 votes. Significantly, Chief Minister Siddararamaiah wanted his confidant and independent MLC Byrathi Suresh to be the party’s candidate from Hebbal assembly seat, but senior leadership of the party opposed this.
Instead, they went whole hog in the support of Sharief for the Hebbal seat even though he had earlier lost the seat in 2013. A Congress worker said, “I wonder why a simple contest was made a tough one? Byrathi Suresh has been working in the constituency from December onwards. The logic of giving the seat to Jaffer Sharief’s grandson is not justifiable. Party workers work hard for five years and then they get a candidate who is not popular.”
The sentiment was echoed by several others. In fact, even during the campaign the party workers were not convinced about the way the campaign was conducted. Despite the Chief Minister and his cabinet having pitched in their best, the party failed to make good show in by polls.
The by-poll was necessitated by the death of BJP MLA Jagadeesh Kumar was being seen as a tough contest between the BJP and the Congress to assert supremacy in the urban limits of Bengaluru.
“Hebbal has been a traditional BJP seat, we gave it a try. If we had won, it would have been nice. The fact we have not indicates party has not lost much. We will work harder next time,” said Rajeev Gowda, MP from the Congress. For the BJP, however, the win comes as a big relief, BJP spokesperson Prakash Sesharaghvachar speaking to Policy Pulse said,” We were confident because of the good work done by late Jagadeesh Kumar. The confusion in the Congress ranks benefitted us, as there was no coordination right from candidate selection to poll day management in Congress party”
The constituency has over 40% minority voters. Despite the fact that there was no division of the minority votes in this election the Congress failure to get the votes has surprised many. While questions are being asked, the Congress must have to rethink over its strategy in the future.