Rebels are a headache for all major political parties

It is the timing of the polls to the Urban Local Bodies — being held just before the Assembly elections — that has spiked its political importance as it may turn out to be a pointer to what will transpire during the Assembly elections.

The fact that none of the major political parties is confident enough to test its popularity before the Assembly polls in the absence of any strong political wave was evident with the way they struggled in vain to put off the ULB polls.

While the Bharatiya Janata Party is embattled by political instability triggered by the desertion of its MLAs and alleged scams involving its leaders, the Opposition parties too have failed to launch aggressive campaigns against the government’s failures or pro-people movements. In such a scenario, the ULB polls are expected to reflect the ground-level strengths of the parties ahead of the Assembly elections.

Interestingly, these polls present the first major political battle after the commencement of political polarisation in the State that witnessed the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa reviving the Karnataka Janata Paksha and the former Minister and mining baron B. Sriramulu forming his political outfit. The impact of their outfits on the State’s political landscape will be apparent.

The role of money power is set to reach a new high as the political parties would want to use these mini polls to create a favourable outlook for themselves ahead of the Assembly elections in the absence of any wave.

The tricky timing of the ULB polls has made it tough for the major political parties to handle the “rebels”. The fact that about one-third of those who have filed nominations for the ULB polls are Independents underscores the seriousness of the rebellion factor.

Plan backfires

The three major parties had three to five strong contenders for each of the ULB wards. The big list of aspirants was being considered as their strengths when it was thought that the ULB polls would be held after the Assembly elections.

Their plan was to completely utilise the services of all the ULB poll aspirants in the Assembly polls by indicating to them that their work in the Assembly polls would earn them ticket for the municipal polls. But this plan backfired with the ULB polls slated ahead of the Assembly polls. “The tables have turned against us now as the disappointed ULB ticket aspirants are likely to turn rebels. We may not be able to douse the rebellion before the Assembly elections as there is not much time between these two polls. This would mean that these rebels would not only desist from working for their parties, but may also work against them,” the State president of a party said.

It is not that the problem of rebellion was not there in the previous ULB polls held in March 2007. But then it did not have wider ramifications as the major political parties chose to ignore most of them. “But now we cannot ignore these rebels from the point of view of Assembly elections. The rebels know for sure that some or other leaders — either from their own parties or the rival camps — will come to woo them as resources for the forthcoming Assembly elections,” another leader said.

Jittery MLAs

The sitting MLAs are jittery over holding the ULB polls ahead of the Assembly polls as the onus is now on them to ensure a good performance in their constituencies to show themselves up ahead of the Assembly polls. They may not even get party ticket if the ULB poll performance is not satisfactory in their constituencies.

This has given enough indications that the MLAs would have to sponsor the expenses of ULB candidates of their parties in their constituencies.

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