Karnataka

Acid test for Somashekar in Yeshwantpur

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JD(S), Congress playing the ‘betrayal’ card against him for switching sides

Being one of the biggest Assembly constituencies in Bengaluru city in terms of geographical area and number of voters, Yeshwantpur has always been the political domain of “bigwigs” and “resourceful” leaders. But in this real-estate hub, which has an interesting mix of urban and rural areas representing contrasting cultures, none are spared political uncertainties.

Disqualified MLA S.T. Somashekar, who won the seat twice on Congress ticket, is seeking election as a BJP candidate. Mr. Somashekar, once a close aide of Congress leader Siddaramaiah, surprised everyone by switching to the BJP in the serial political defections that culminated in the downfall of JD(S)-Congress coalition government. His repeated outbursts against then Chief Minister H.D. Kumraswamy attracted the wrath of the JD(S), which feels it is time to settle scores.

The JD(S) has fielded T.N. Javarayi Gowda, who contested unsuccessfully against Mr. Somashekar twice and lost by a margin of around 10,000 votes during the previous polls. Though the Congress has fielded local leader P. Nagaraj, the contest appears to be between BJP and JD(S).

What has provided a new dimension to the acid test being faced by Mr. Somashekar is caste overtone. Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa has been invoking community sentiments by appealing to the Lingayats to back him while campaigning in the Lingayat-dominated areas of northern districts. Responding to this, Mr. Kumaraswamy has chosen Yeshwantpur to invoke similar feelings among the Vokkaligas by appealing to them to “teach a lesson” to those who brought down his government.

However, though the constituency has a dominating presence of Vokkaliga community, there is a sizeable population of other communities including Lingayats, OBCs, Dalits, and Muslims.

On his part, Mr. Somashekar is promising huge funds for the development of the constituency by reminding people that he would be elevated as Minister if they elect him. A victory this time will become a turning point in his political career.

But both the JD(S) and the Congress have been playing the “betrayal” card against him for switching sides and have raised concerns about the constituency turning out to be a garbage dump.

The constituency is witnessing a high-voltage campaign with a slew of top BJP leaders, including Mr. Yediyurappa, Union Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda and senior leader Shobha Karandlaje, holding road shows. Congress’ Mr. Siddaramaiah and JD(S) leaders H.D. Deve Gowda and H.D. Kumaraswamy have also taken up hectic campaigning here.

The bypoll result from Yeshwantpur is being keenly watched. It will send out a strong political signal as it has turned out to be a prestige battle for the top BJP leadership and Mr. Somashekar on the one hand and Mr. Kumaraswamy and Mr. Siddaramaiah on the other.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 7:01:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/acid-test-for-somashekar-in-yeshwantpur/article30152627.ece

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