BJP sweeps bypolls in Karnataka and Telangana EDs: Combining related stories

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Bengaluru/Hyderabad, Nov 10 (PTI) The ruling BJP on Tuesday swept the bypolls to two assembly seats in Karnataka by wresting them from the opposition Congress and JD(S) and stunned the ruling TRS in neighbouring Telangana by snatching the Dubbak segment held by it.

The saffron party's performance in Karnataka has given a boost to Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa's stock amid talks about his replacement in some quarters while its Telangana win will be a morale-booster ahead of the upcoming Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) polls.

In Karnataka's Sira, BJP created a history of sorts by recording its first ever victory there, while in the bitterly fought Dubbak elections, it reversed its electoral fortunes by winning a seat it lost to the the K Chandasekar Rao-led TRS in the general elections in 2018.

A strong regional player ever since 2014, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has won two Assembly polls in a row, besides netting nine of the 17 seats it contested in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, underlining its hold on the state politics.

KCR-led TRS has a massive majority of 100 MLAs in the 120-member Telangana Assembly.

In a close contest, BJP's M Raghunandan Rao defeated TRS nominee Solipeta Sujatha in Dubbak by 1,079 votes.

In Karnataka's Sira, BJP candidate Dr C M Rajesh Gowda secured the seat by a margin of over 13,400 votes.

The ruling party wresting both seats from Congress and JD(S) is seen as a setback for opposition leaders, especially Karnataka Congress chief D K Shivakumar who strategised the first election in the state under his stewardship.

With these victories, the strength of BJP will rise to 118 in the 225-member assembly that would still have two vacancies.

In Rajarajeshwari (RR) Nagar, N Munirathna scored a hat-trick, winning by an impressive margin of more than 58,000 votes, in what seemed to be in line with Yediyurappa's earlier assertion of registering a strong win here.

Following the good show, an upbeat Yediyurappa indicated there will not be just an expansion of his cabinet, a much talked about post-poll move, but he may even effect a reshuffle, after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and party chief JP Nadda.

The bypoll to Sira in Tumakuru district was necessitated following the death of JD(S) MLA B Sathyanarayana in August, while the R R Nagar seat fell vacant due to disqualification of Munirathna as the then Congress MLA last year under anti- defection law.

Though the results of the polls will have no bearing on the stability of the BJP government, the outcome was perceived in many quarters as a reflection on the performance of the B S Yediyurappa government, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

'This is the victory of the people and by ensuring BJP's victory they have exuded confidence and support towards the state government and its handling of flood situation and corona pandemic,' Yediyurappa said about the twin issues on which the opposition Congress has often targeted him.

JD(S) was relegated to the third place in both seats.

Shivakumar accepted responsibility for the party's defeat and asked the cadre not to be disheartened.

JD(S) leader and former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said bypoll results were not the yardstick for a political party and he would concentrate on strengthening his party.

Reflecting on the Dubbak win, which pushed its tally in the Telangana Assembly to two, state BJP president Bandi Sanjay Kumar said TRS leaders should remember that its series of victories would continue till the saffron flag reached the top of Golconda fort, a reference to it coming to power in the state.

He claimed that the Dubbak verdict was against Chief Minister Rao and his 'arrogant, corrupt and dictatorial' rule.

Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said the BJP's win is being welcomed by Telangana people.

Reddy, who referred to alleged incidents of money being seized from the relatives of the BJP candidate Rao in the run up to polling, also claimed party leaders were troubled 'at every step' during the campaign with authorities stopping them for checks, while allowing TRS vehicles.

People would teach a lesson to such behaviour and the electorate in Dubbak did teach a lesson, he said.

The TRS said the outcome was not on expected lines.

The party's working president KT Rama Rao said the result will be reviewd.

'The result was not as we expected...we will not be depressed by defeats or overjoyed with success,' Rama Rao, son of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, said.

Pointing out that the TRS never lost any election, be it for Assembly, Panchayat or GHMC after the formation of Telangana in 2014, he said Dubbak loss would make it more alert in future. PTI KSU RS SJR GDK APR VS SA BN WELCOME BN WELCOME