Hangal victory provides a new momentum to Congress
The Congress victory in Hangal and its much improved performance in vote share in Sindgi constituency are expected to provide a new momentum for the party’s preparations for the 2023 Assembly elections.
Surprisingly, polarisation of votes did not happen on religious lines in both the constituencies and the minority voters, particularly Muslims, largely appeared to have backed the Congress. The JD(S), which fielded candidates belonging to minority communities — in an apparent bid to divide votes — was decimated and lost deposits in both the constituencies.
Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah’s appeal to minority voters not to “waste” their valuable votes by supporting the JD(S), which was incapable of fighting the BJP, too seems to have worked for the Congress.
In Hangal, Congress sources said, party candidate Srinivas Mane’s relief work during the COVID-19 pandemic and floods in 2019 outsmarted the BJP’s campaign led by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai in his home turf.
Moreover, the Congress successfully brought truce with Manohar Tahasildar, former MLA, when he was denied ticket. KPCC working president Saleem Ahmed spent more than a month in the constituency to ensure support of Mr. Tahasildar and his supporters to Mr. Mane.
The party had run a systematic campaign at the constituency and booth levels in Hangal by focusing on local issues that affected the voters most during the pandemic. Leaders ensured unity among the booth-level leaders by avoiding groupism among the camps of different State-level leaders, sources said.
Sources said the unceremonious exit of B.S. Yediyurappa from the Chief Minister’s post had also helped the Congress, and the party had virtually dubbed it as an “insult” to the politically powerful Lingayat-Veerashaiva community. KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar had said “tears shed by Mr. Yediyurappa will lead to the fall of the BJP in the State”.
In Sindgi, it is said absence of an understanding between Congress and JD(S) workers at the booth level was one of the reasons for the party’s defeat. Ashok Managuli, who was in the JD(S) and joined the Congress a few months before the byelection, emerged as the runner-up. Mr. Managuli, son of former MLA late M.C. Managuli of the JD(S), secured 62,292 votes. However, the Congress had secured only 21,818 votes in 2018.
But the party’s much improved performance owes much the pathetic performance of Naziya Shakeel Ahmed Angadi of the JD(S). The JD(S), which won the seat in 2018, is pushed to the third place by securing a mere 4,321 votes as against 70,865 votes it got in 2018.
Reacting to the results, Congress leaders said it indicated people of Karnataka were “looking for a change” and exuded confidence about the party returning to power after the 2023 Assembly elections.