The victory of Congress candidate Nagaraj Chabbi in the byelection to the Dharwad Local Authorities’ Constituency has come as a rude shock to the former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar and the BJP camp.
Mr. Chabbi defeated Pradeep Shettar, the former Chief Minister’s younger brother, who was hitherto serving as a party functionary. The win is also a setback to the BJP-KJP alliance in the region.
The defeat has hit BJP State chief Pralhad Joshi, who is the MP from Dharwad Lok Sabha constituency, which comprised of a major chunk of voters for the Council bypoll. Mr. Joshi’s influence as a two-time MP and BJP State chief failed to make an impact on the electorate.
It was believed that Mr. Shettar’s influence as the former Chief Minister and Lingayat leader of the region would make it easier for his brother to win the Council bypoll.
The seat was earlier held by Shivaraj Sajjanar of the BJP. Mr. Sajjanar resigned from the post when Mr. Yeddyurappa joined the Karnataka Janata Paksha. Mr. Sajjanar was fielded by the KJP but he withdrew his nomination papers, following an understanding between the BJP and the KJP.
Following the tie-up, KJP leaders canvassed for the BJP candidate in the districts of Haveri, Gadag and Dharwad. Although KJP did not win many seats in the Assembly elections, it did spoil BJP’s prospects in several constituencies.
As Haveri happens to be one of the districts in the State where the KJP has an MLA, and with C.M. Udasi leading the campaign, it was believed that a win in the Council polls would send a strong message about the ‘strength’ of the BJP-KJP combination.
However efforts made by the KJP leaders failed to create an impact on voters to vote for the BJP in the district.