Will vote split advantage BJP?


Two Muslim contestants from national parties are in the fray in Bengaluru’s oldest segment

Among the bypoll-bound Assembly constituencies, Shivajinagar stands out because the disqualified MLA from this segment, unlike the others, was not even inducted into the Bharatiya Janata Party, let alone be given ticket to contest. Roshan Baig, one of the 17 MLAs who resigned from the Assembly leading to the fall of the coalition government, has been left in the lurch after the saffron party refused to take him in.

Baig sits out

While initially, Mr. Baig was toying with the idea of contesting as an Independent, he eventually chose to remain out of the fray. The BJP has fielded former councillor M. Sharavana (whose wife is councillor of Halasaru), while the Congress has chosen MLC Rizwan Arshad, who contested and lost the Lok Sabha polls from Bengaluru Central in 2014 and 2019. The Janata Dal (Secular), which had polled fewer votes than NOTA in the 2018 Assembly polls, has fielded Tanveer Ahmed Ullah, its national spokesperson. Incidentally, 19 candidates are contesting from Shivajinagar, the highest in this bypoll.

Observers say that two Muslim contestants in the fray might split the community’s votes, while there is another factor that is likely to further divide them — the Social Democratic Party of India is also a contender in this oldest city constituency and some staunch Congress workers too are being influenced by this party, according to locals. The Opposition votes thus split, it is expected to be advantageous for the BJP candidate.

Mr. Baig’s exit from the Congress and his overtures towards the BJP may not be favourable for the Congress, admitted a senior Congressman. Interestingly, Mr. Baig had hailed the Ayodhya verdict and volunteered to help in the construction of the Ram temple. Also, of the five Congress councillors, at least two — Nethravathi Krishnegowda and M.K. Gunashekar — continue to be with Mr. Baig. This has brought cheer in the BJP camp.

Besides, the alleged involvement of some politicians from the constituency in a series of Ponzi scams, including the latest multi-crore IMA scandal, has shaken the people’s trust in this constituency. In the IMA scandal of about 35,000 victims, more than 12,000 are residents of Shivajnagar Assembly constituency. In fact, it was a challenge for the Congress to find a person without the baggage of a ponzi scheme.

Opposition within

The party finally chose Mr. Arshad despite opposition from within the Congress. Several leaders, including former Ministers B.Z. Zameer Ahmed, K.J. George, and even two Congress councillors are yet to join him in the campaign. Sources said they are upset that the party has been repeatedly giving opportunities to Mr. Arshad. He is being backed by Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah.

Mr. Tanveer Ahmed, the JD(S) candidate, is hoping that people who have experimented with a Congress MLA for two consecutive terms and a BJP representative before that, may be looking for a change. He has launched a fund-raising campaign for his poll expenses.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 4:51:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/will-vote-split-advantage-bjp/article30063067.ece

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