Bengaluru, Sep 29 (PTI) Stakes will be high for ruling BJP and opposition Congress and JDS in the November 3 byelections to two assembly segments in Karnataka, announced by the Election Commission on Tuesday.
The outcome would be seen in many quarters as a reflection on the performance of the B S Yediyurappa government, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, while the opposition parties would be keen to strike after the December 2019 bypolls in which the BJP had triumphed.
As per the EC's schedule, the election notification for the bypolls in Sira in Tumakuru district and Rajarajeshwari Nagar in the city will be issued on October 9, the last date for the filing of nomination is October 16 and the scrutiny will take place on the next day.
The last day for withdrawal of nomination is October 19, and the counting of votes will take place on November 10.
The bypolls had been necessitated in Sira following the death of B Sathyanarayana (JDS) last month, while the Rajarajeshwari Nagar seat fell vacant following the disqualification of Congress MLA N Munirathna under the anti- defection law last year.
Munirathna is now with the BJP, which will be aiming to bag both the seats.
Stakes will be more for Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa amid intense speculation that BJP high command is mulling leadership change considering his age.
The 77-year-old leader during his reply to the debate on the no-confidence against his government in the assembly last week had declared that his party will win the bypolls, as he hit out at the opposition Congress for levelling allegations of corruption and misrule against his administration.
For Congress and JD(S) too the bypolls are crucial as they are keen on retaining the Rajarajesjwari Nagar and the Sira seats which they had won respectively in the 2018 assembly polls, and will be focusing on gaining an additional seat.
It is also equally significant for state Congress President D K Shivakumar and JD(S) leader and former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy to assert their command over the Vokkaliga vote bank in the old Mysuru region.
Vokkaligas have considerable presence in both the seats.
Within the Congress too, winning both seats will be important for Shivakumar in consolidating his position.
Congress has already announced that it will be fielding former Minister T B Jayachandra as party candidate from Sira.
Jayachandra had represented the constituency twice in 2008 and 2013, by defeating JD(S)' B Sathyanarayana, who in turn had trounced him in the 2018 assembly polls.
Congress and JD(S) are traditional rivals for the seat, which the BJP has never won.
If the BJP fields a strong candidate, Sira bypolls is likely to see a three cornered contest.
According to JD(S) sources, the party is likely to name a family member of late MLA Sathyanarayana, eyeing sympathy votes.
BJP, which is confident after winning K R Pet assembly seat in Mandya during December 2019 bypolls, is now working at making inroads in the old Mysuru region, where the party had been weak.
It is now keen on increasing its tally in the region by winning Sira.
Yediyurappa's son and state BJP Vice President B Y Vijayendra, who played a key role in winning K R Pet, will be camping in the Sira constituency, party sources said.
Bypolls for Rajarajeshwari Nagar will also be significant as the ruling BJP is likely to give ticket to Munirathna, keeping up its promise to field disqualified Congress-JD(S) legislators who had played a key role in the party coming to power.
Munirathna had won the seat in 2018 on a Congress ticket by a margin of over 25,400 votes.
According to sources, several local BJP leaders are opposed to Munirathna, as the party had bitterly contested against him and had even accused him of electoral malpractices in 2018 as nearly 10,000 voter ID cards were allegedly seized from an apartment in the constituency.
Rajarajeshwari Nagar along with Maski represented by disqualified Congress legislators have been vacant for some time now, due to pending election petitions in the Karnataka High Court. Schedule is yet to be announced for the Maski assembly seat.
Congress and JD(S) are also yet to finalise their candidates for Rajarajeshwari Nagar.
The constituency is key for Congress as it comes under Bengaluru Rural Lok Sabha segment represented by D K Shivakumar's brother D K Suresh, while JD(S) will be looking at banking on Vokkaligas, who have considerable presence there.
The by polls will increase the legislative assembly strength to 223. Currently, in the 225-member assembly, the BJP has 116 members, Congress 67, JD(S) 33, BSP and nominated 1 and independents 2 besides the Speaker.
Four seats --- Sira, Basavakalyana, Rajarajeshwari Nagar and Maski --- are vacant.
Basavakalyana fell vacant recently following the death of Congress MLA Narayan Rao, due to COVID. PTI KSU RS VS VS