Congress encouraged by one win and a narrow loss in Karnataka bypolls

Retaining Maski Assembly seat and putting up an impressive fight in Belagavi Lok Sabha constituency seem to be the bypoll takeaways for the Congress, which only last week won six out of 10 ULBs that went to the polls in the State.

Though partial, leaders believe that the success in these bypolls would boost the morale of party workers as despite a huge number of Ministers making it to the election arena, the Congress polled impressive numbers.

The bypolls coming about two years before the next Assembly elections also meant they were being seen as a performance indicator of the B.S. Yediyurappa-led BJP government in COVID-19 times. They were also seen as a test of the leadership of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee chief D.K. Shivakumar. In the midst of rumours that he had a hand in the CD scandal involving BJP leader Ramesh Jarkiholi, brother of the Congress candidate in Belagavi, this election was particular watched.

Congress Legislative Party leader Siddaramaiah on Sunday expressed happiness with the party’s victory in Maski and the close fight in Belagavi. He blamed the JD(S) for the party’s defeat in Basavakalyan. “The presence of the JD(S) candidate divided the votes in Basavakalyan. Had the JD(S) not fielded a candidate from a minority community, the Congress would have won,” he claimed. Party sources also said the Congress was hoping that Mallikarjun Khuba, the BJP rebel contesting as an Independent, would split the BJP votes, but this did not happen.

According to Mr. Siddaramaiah, the nail-biting finish in Belagavi constituency brought much satisfaction to the party. “We have done well despite losing. The thin margins show that people are leaning towards the Congress,” he said.

The win in Maski seems to have brought cheer to the leaders as it was a seats contested by the Congress deserter Pratapgouda Patil. “What Maski has proved is that the Congress votes have remained with the party, unlike in other places. The victory margin was huge despite the ruling party trying all the tricks,” a Congress source said. The victory is also seen as good since it came despite Mr. Yediyurappa’s son B.Y. Vijayendra working for Mr. Patil, sources added. Mr. Siddaramaiah also said the Maski voters had rejected money power and ‘Operation Kamala’ politics.

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