BJP eyes inroads into Mandya and Ramanagara as congress opts-out
BJP eyes inroads into Mandya and Ramanagara as congress opts-out

BENGALURU: The treaty between the Congress and the JD(S) in the forthcoming bypolls to the Mandya Lok Sabha and Ramanagara assembly constituencies has come as a blessing for the opposition BJP. It offers the saffron party a rare opportunity to make inroads into the Vokkaliga heartland, a bastion of the ruling parties in the state.The BJP, led by B S Yeddyurappa, has been shrewd in announcing an influential local leader — former KAS officer Siddaramaiah aka Siddaramappa — as the party’s candidate for the Mandya Lok Sabha poll. The obvious aim is to penetrate the Congress-JD(S) bastion. Incidentally, the BJP chief also comes from Bookanakere in Mandya.

Senior BJP leaders strongly believe the direct contest with the JD(S) in Mandya and Ramanagara will help the party merge Congress votes and reap electoral dividends in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.“Ever since its inception in Karnataka, BJP has never succeeded in making inroads in the Vokkaliga heartland,” said Ramesh Babu, a senior JD(S) leader. “With the ‘cooperative movement’, Congress and JD(S) have always retained complete hold on the masses across Mandya, Ramanagara, Hassan and Mysuru barring a few city constituencies.The Congress has won 12 elections from the Mandya Lok Sabha seat since 1951 and JD(S) has won the Ramanagara assembly seat consecutively since 2004.

 Former Union minister S M Krishna and former Mandya MP and actor M H Ambareesh had helped strengthen the Congress base in Mandya. Ramya (Divya Spandana), head of the All India Congress Committee Social Media Cell, also won the constituency in 2013. This time they won’t succeed.”Of the two coalition partners, the Congress is far more worried about the possible consequences of the pact and is drawing up a strategy to counter it effectively.“Should the BJP make its presence felt in Mandya and Ramanagara, it would do more harm to the Congress than the JD(S),” a senior Congress leader admitted.

 “The JD(S), with the support of Congress, is expected win hands down in the two bypolls, but it would damage the Congress vote bank.”The Congress is now brawling to re-establish the supremacy it enjoyed over Mandya district since Krishna joined the BJP and Ambareesh distanced himself from district politics for different reasons.“With the Congress out, BJP can expect SC-ST, Kurubas, Lingayats and OBC voters to root for the party,” Shivanna said.

Though the saffron party is still far from being a huge opponent, party sources wants it is bound to make a mark with its organisational strength and presence throughout the district.C Shivanna, a local BJP leader, said though the district is being branded as the Vokkaliga heartland, Vokkaligas command only around 35% of votes in Mandya. Kurubas (10%), Scheduled Class, Scheduled Tribes (23%) Lingayats-Veerashaivas (4%) Other Backward Classes (OBC) (10%) and the minority community (5%) will decide the fate of candidates

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