Karnataka

Maski bypoll: It’s same candidates in different camps this time around

Maski, an Assembly constituency reserved for the Scheduled Tribes, is all set to witness a fierce electoral battle, with the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates having changed places.

Pratapgouda Patil, who has won all the three elections held in the constituency after it came into being in 2008 — as the BJP candidate in 2008 and as the Congress candidate in 2013 and 2018, is now again the BJP candidate. In fact, the byelection is necessitated by his defection to the BJP and subsequent disqualification from the Assembly. It is a matter of prestige for the party, particularly because Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa’s son B.Y. Vijayendra has camped in the constituency leading the campaign.

Maski bypoll: It’s same candidates in different camps this time around

Basanagouda Turvihal, who quit the BJP after Mr. Patil joined it, is now the Congress candidate here. For D.K. Shivakumar, president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, retaining the Congress seats in Basavakalyan and Maski would mean a lot for his leadership and election engineering skills.

The fact that the same two candidates had fiercely fought the 2018 Assembly elections from the same constituency but from the opposite camp makes Maski particularly interesting. Mr. Patil had won by a slender margin of just 213 votes against his nearest rival, Mr. Turvihal, who had polled 60,174 votes.

Anti-incumbency?

Political analysts say there is a discernible anti-incumbency wave sweeping across the constituency against Mr. Patil. Lack of visible development in the constituency despite being its representative for the last 13 years. His returning to the BJP after defecting from the Congress has triggered dissent in the BJP ranks too.

Though most Lingayats, an estimated 50,000 voters, in the constituency are believed to be BJP supporters, anti-incumbency is visible even within this group. Realising this, the BJP leadership has mobilised the community leaders from across the State for campaign. They are holding grassroots-level community meetings and projecting Mr. Patil as a Minister-to-be in Mr. Yediyurappa’s Cabinet, which would benefit the constituency.

Mr. Patil’s consistent opposition to the NRBC 5A canal project is another stumbling block for the BJP. There is strong opposition to Mr. Patil in as many as 58 villages that would benefit from the irrigation project if implemented. Mr. Yediyurappa also rubbed salt into the wound by turning down the demand in his recent election campaign. Farmers from these villages who are on an indefinite protest demonstration at Pamanakallur village on rotation demanding the project are campaigning against Mr. Patil.

No third option

It remains to be seen if these would end up favouring Mr. Turvihal as there is no strong third candidate. The teamwork from the Congress and a strong following of youths are the biggest strengths for Mr. Turvihal. The former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s campaign in the constituency might be useful for attracting around 20,000 Kuruba votes. Most of the 10,000 Muslim voters are expected to lean towards the Congress. Mr. Turvihal’s defeat in the last election by a slender margin has also created a kind of sympathy for him.

“Presently, the Congress appears to have the upper hand. However, the BJP turning the tables on its rival with its enormous resources cannot be ruled out,” said Venkatesh Patel, a leader of the NRBC 5A Canal agitation and a political observer.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 11:42:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/maski-bypoll-its-same-candidates-in-different-camps-this-time-around/article34297709.ece

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