Karnataka bypolls: JD(S) loses the plot and candidates their deposit | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: For a party that has regularly punched well above its weight, the JD(S) could not have got it more wrong in the bypolls. It’s candidates not only lost their deposits, but the party lost the plot as well.
The JD(S) fielded Muslims for both Hangal and Sindgi in a bid to capture minority votes — which traditionally accrue to the Congress — and resurrect its image of being a secular party.
However, realising the danger, the Congress led by legislature party leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah launched a sustained campaign, accusing the JD(S) of helping BJP’s cause and calling it the ‘B team’ of the saffron party.
The strategy seems to have worked as Muslim voters in both segments stood solidly behind Congress. And this despite the JD(S) focusing on Sindgi, where it had grassroot support. The seat was previously held by late MC Managuli of JD(S), and both party supremo and former PM HD Deve Gowda and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy had camped in the segment for more than a week.
While it secured a dismal 4,353 (2.7%) votes in Sindgi, in Hangal, the party candidate managed just 927 (0.5%) of ballots cast. To put that in perspective, Managuli had polled 70,865 votes in 2018. In Hangal in 2018, JD(S) got 1,028 votes.
“While we fielded a candidate in Hangal despite zero cadre strength, in Sindgi, the Congress hijacked the entire Manguli family and our grassroot strength, so much so that we did not even have polling agents in the segment,” said Bandeappa Kashempur, JD(S) Bidar South MLA.
Kumaraswamy said Congress’ defamatory campaign against JD(S) and calling it BJP’s ‘B team’ had borne fruit. However, JD(S) functionaries defended the decision to field Muslims in both segments. “In both Sindgi and Hangal we faced a serious dearth of reliable candidates and thus settled for candidates who were ready to contest,” said Kashempur.
The back-to-back losses in Sindgi, Hangal and Basavakalyan across north Karnataka also suggests the Vokkaliga-dominated party’s future is precarious in the entire region and that it must bank heavily on individuals who can win rather than on people voting for the party.
In fact, as per the Election Commission of India (ECI) data, total vote share across both constituencies vis-a-vis the total votes polled puts JD(S) at a paltry 1.6%.
However, Kumaraswamy defended the party’s stability in north Karnataka and said the bypoll results will have no impact on the 2023 assembly elections. “We have already held a workshop for our cadre, and we will concentrate on the 2023 elections with all seriousness,” said the former CM.

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Sagar Biswas

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