congress: Hangal bypoll: Shot in the arm for beleaguered Congress | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: The Congress’ victory in Hangal has boosted morale in a party beleaguered by infighting during byelections, often leading to defeats.
The result also sent out a strong message to sceptical functionaries — that the party can win if former chief minister Siddaramaiah and KPCC president DK Shivakumar work in unison. It also provides momentum for the party ahead of the 2023 assembly elections.
Following its victory in Hangal, Congress workers burst crackers and celebrated boisterously — a rare scene in the state after BJP came to power in 2019.
Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar were happy with the results, attributing it to “joint efforts”. The former CM also attributed the victory to antiincumbency against BJP.
“The people of Hangal have voted against BJP despite the chief minister, cabinet ministers, former chief minister BS Yediyurappa and his son camping in the constituency,” Siddaramaiah said. “People want change. There is anti-incumbency in the state and the Centre. In Sindgi, I suspect the lack of coordination between Congress and JD(S) party workers [after Ashok Managuli quit JD(S) to contest on a Congress ticket] resulted in our defeat. The Congress will make a comeback in 2023 as people are fed up with the BJP.”
While the win in Hangal was thrilling since it came in chief minister Basavaraj Bommai’s home district and it was a seat held by BJP, Congress also seemed satisfied with its performance in Sindgi, where it was relegated to third spot in the 2018 polls.
Hangal was also a personal victory for Siddaramaiah, who overcame formidable challenges. He oversaw the campaign in Hangal, while Shivakumar was in charge of Sindgi. It reinforced Siddaramaiah’s ability to win, appeal to various caste groups and micromanage election strategy. Analysts say the victory also infused confidence in the Congress leader, who is aspiring to become CM again.
Siddaramaiah had to fight two separate battles, one within the party and the other against Bommai, who seemed confident of retaining the seat and emerging leader of the Lingayat community — said to be the biggest caste group. He also ensured his Kuruba vote bank remained intact.
However, Congress leaders were quick to admit that their candidate Sreenivas Mane’s personal touch and his work during the waves of the pandemic was a huge factor. Regardless, the win is a notch for the grand old party.

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Sagar Biswas

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