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Battleground Shivajinagar: Disqualified MLA Baig may back BJP

He is out of the Congress, and is knocking on the doors of the BJP, which is buying time on admitting him. Little did he probably expect the BJP might deny him entry into the party, leave along granting him a ticket.

, ET Bureau|
Nov 20, 2019, 05.04 PM IST
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Battleground Shivajinagar: Disqualified MLA Baig may back BJP
Baig, sources say, is pinning his hopes on the BJP, and Yediyurappa.
BENGALURU: In the high-profile battleground of Shivajinagar in Bengaluru City, disqualified MLA R Roshan Baig may end up supporting BJP candidate M Saravana, a former corporator, in the December 5 byelection. The former minister had represented the constituency five times in the Assembly.

He is out of the Congress, and is knocking on the doors of the BJP, which is buying time on admitting him. Little did he probably expect the BJP might deny him entry into the party, leave along granting him a ticket. Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, sources say, met Baig in his residence on Monday and promised him of all support and necessary accommodation in the party if he comes out clean in the IMA case. The CM, sources said, acknowledged Baig’s help and requested his active support for the BJP candidate in Shivajinagar.

A member of the Congress ministry under Siddaramaiah, Baig later distanced himself from senior leaders, and freely expressed his anger by lashing out at Siddaramaiah and AICC general secretary KC Venugopal two days before the recent Lok Sabha results. In July, he was among the 17 Congress and JD(S) MLAs, who resigned their Assembly membership in order to topple the JD(S)-Congress regime, and help the BJP to form the government. The BJP considered this a big “sacrifice”, and the CM has repeatedly said all of them will be rewarded with ministership if they win in the bypolls.

It is well known Baig don’t see eye to eye with Congress candidate, the 40-year old Rizwan Arshad. Baig, sources say, wants his son R Ruman Baig to be his political heir. Arshad, originally a Mysurean, has been attempting to build his base in the Bangalore Central Lok Sabha constituency which includes Shivajinagar as well.

Baig, sources say, is pinning his hopes on the BJP, and Yediyurappa. He is likely to do his best to ensure the young Arshad does not deepen his footprint. If the Congress were to win, that will douse the hopes of Baig’s son building his political nest in Shivajinagar.

Arshad lost the recent Lok Sabha polls from Bangalore Central to BJP’s PC Mohan, but not before giving a good fight, earning 44% of the votes polled. In Shivajinagar Assembly segment, he got about 55% of votes, far ahead of Mohan, despite Baig not backing him. “(Baig) worked against the party in Lok Sabha election & hobnobbed with BJP,” he tweeted later.

In fact, in the two Lok Sabha elections he contested, in 2014 and 2019, Arshad turned in an impressive show in the Shivajinagar Assembly segment. He polled 5% more votes in the recent Lok Sabha polls in Shivajinagar compared to 2014. That is sure to boost his confidence, and make the rival BJP nervous.

It is therefore little wonder that the Congress candidate has invested his hopes on the traditional Congress voters for a repeat of the poll performance record of the party in the Lok Sabha as well as the previous Assembly elections. Baig won in all the three previous Assembly elections, demonstrating his invincibility to the Congress. The December 5 byelection will establish whether the Congress could exercise the same old charm on voters even without Baig.

There are quite a few hurdles for Arshad, though. A few Congress leaders see Arshad as a camp follower of Siddaramaiah, and are keeping neutral. Since the former CM is leading the party campaign, some of his colleagues don’t want him to walk away with success. The BJP being in power is expected to campaign aggressively to win the seat. There are quite a few Muslim candidates in the fray, including a JD(S) nominee, which may lead to the scattering of the Muslim and Christian votes, who are in a majority in the constituency. Being a Tamil, Saravana may end up winning a large number of Tamil votes, who have a big presence in the constituency.

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