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Karnataka bypolls: Contestants make a pitch for strong single-party government

Both BA ‘Byrathi’ Basavaraja (KR Puram) and ST Somashekar (Yeshwanthpur) -- were loyal followers of Congress leader Siddaramaiah before they joined other lawmakers who resigned their Assembly membership causing the JD(S)-Congress regime’s fall in ...

, ET Bureau|
Nov 22, 2019, 11.29 AM IST
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Basavaraja and Somashekar along with disqualified MLA Munirathna formed a triumvirate, and were known for their political bonding and stand. They quit the Congress together.
BENGALURU: The two disqualified MLAs of KR Puram and Yeshwanthpur Assembly constituencies in Bengaluru are appealing for votes to strengthen the single party government in Karnataka rather than return to a bickering coalition era.

Both of them -- BA ‘Byrathi’ Basavaraja (KR Puram) and ST Somashekar (Yeshwanthpur) -- were loyal followers of Congress leader Siddaramaiah before they joined other lawmakers who resigned their Assembly membership causing the JD(S)-Congress regime’s fall in July this year.

Between May of last year and now, the same candidates are appearing before voters though their loyalties have shifted and party flags have changed. “We are asking voters if they wish to see an unstable coalition government again,” said an associate of ST Somashekar, the man who caused ripples in political circles when he famously said he still considered Siddaramaiah as his CM when Kumaraswamy held that position. “If people want a stable regime which can focus on development, then they must vote for the BJP,” he said.

Basavaraja’s campaign managers have also been soliciting votes parroting similar lines. Interestingly, most Congress corporators have also switched their loyalties to the BJP because their MLA bosses have joined the party. It is in this context that the Congress on Wednesday expelled four corporators from KR Puram on charges of anti-party activities.

Basavaraja and Somashekar along with disqualified MLA Munirathna formed a triumvirate, and were known for their political bonding and stand. They quit the Congress together.

In Yeshwanthpur, Somashekar, a Vokkaliga, is facing a close contest from another member of the same community TN Javarayi Gowda of the JD(S). The two had a face-off in last year’s Assembly election too and Gowda had lost by a margin of about 11,000 votes. The contest between the BJP and JD(S) is pretty tight because JD(S) is known as a party of Vokkaligas.

The JD(S) is hopeful of winning this seat along with another in Mandya district, and hence is leaving no stone unturned in its campaign efforts. “Gowda is a popular face in Yeshwanthpur and the fact that he lost by a narrow margin last year has given us some hope,” a local JD(S) worker said.

Somashekar is also fighting anti-incumbency having been an MLA for two terms.

In KR Puram, however, the fight is between the BJP’s Basavaraja and M Narayanaswamy of the Congress. Interestingly, Narayanaswamy was a close associate of Basavaraja till the latter jumped ship. In fact, with Basavaraja’s support, Narayanaswamy even became an MLC.

“The two candidates once shared a guru-shishya bonding,” recalled an expelled Congress corporator from KR Puram.

Political observers say Narayanaswamy is an out-and-out partyman and has held various organisational positions, but has stayed away from electoral politics. “Basavaraja will be asking for votes for development of the constituency which is home to a large number of IT companies,” a BJP worker said.

In Yeshwanthpur, the Congress has fielded a low-profile Palya Nagaraj while in KR Puram, the JD(S) has fielded party general secretary C Krishna Murthy.
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