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High stakes for Congress in Karnataka by-elections

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Congress

Bengaluru, Nov 18 : The beleaguered opposition Congress in Karnataka faces an uphill task in retaining its Assembly seats in the December 5 by-elections, as it faces an upbeat ruling BJP and an estranged Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) ally at the hustings.

“The task is cut out for the Congress to retain 12 of the 15 poll-bound Assembly seats in the state that fell vacant, as it faces 11 of its former rebels as BJP candidates in their strongholds in triangular contests where secular votes will get divided between the two former allies,” a political analyst told IANS ahead of the crucial by-elections.

The JD-S is also bracing to retain the three Assembly seats from where its rebel lawmakers resigned and joined the BJP to contest and win to maintain their hold in the constituencies, including two in the old Mysuru region and one in Bengaluru.

Though the Supreme Court on November 13 upheld the former speaker’s order disqualifying all the 17 legislators, including 14 from Congress and three from JD-S, it allowed them to contest in the by-polls, much to the chagrin of the two opposition parties, which was hoping to retain them without facing the powerful defectors.

“The apex court’s decision to allow the defectors to contest in the by-elections by quashing the speaker’s order of preventing them from contesting till the 5-year Assembly term ended in 2023 has upset the Congress more than the JD-S, as it may not be able to retain many of the seats in the absence of strong candidates who can take on the defectors and the ruling party’s enviable poll machinery,” asserted the analyst.

Unhappy with the floundering 14-month-old JD-S-Congress coalition government and giving up hopes of becoming ministers or sharing the spoils, the defectors resigned from their Assembly seats in mid-July and stayed away from the House on the crucial day when former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy lost the trust-vote on July 23 and resigned on the same night.

“A fractured verdict in the May 2018 Assembly elections forced us to tie-up with the JD-S and form the coalition government solely to keep the BJP out of power, as it fell short of 8-9 seats in the 225-member house for simple majority, with 113 as the halfway mark. The resignations of the 17 former lawmakers enabled the BJP to wrest power from us with only 105 legislators,” Congress leader V.S. Ugrappa lamented.

The Congress had won 80 and the JD-S 37 in the Assembly polls last year, with the remaining one each by an independent, a regional outfit (KPJP) and one nominated.

The humiliating defeat of the former coalition allies in the recent Lok Sabha elections in which they retained only one seat each while the BJP won a record 25 of the 28 parliamentary constituencies emboldened the former Congress and JD-S rebels to quit their Assembly seats and caused the fall of the coalition government, as they did not find prospects of becoming ministers or getting adequate funds for the development of their Assembly constituencies.

“The disastrous Lok Sabha results have proved that the pre-poll alliance between the former ruling allies and fielding of joint candidates to avoid division of votes backfired and benefitted the BJP instead,” admitted Ugrappa.

With the BJP going all out to win 8-10 of the 15 seats to have a simple majority by fielding 13 defectors in the fray, the Congress worked overtime in selecting 8 candidates on October 31, 6 on November 16 and one (P. Nagaraj) on Sunday night for the Yeshwanthapura Assembly segment.

“As the apex court upheld the disqualification of the defectors for defying the party whip and betraying the electorate for voting them in the May 2018 assembly elections, we are asking the voters to punish them for disrespecting their mandate,” asserted Ugrappa.

The Congress candidates are G.B. Mangasuli (Athani), B.A. Kage (Kagwad), Lakhan Jarkiholi (Gokak), Venkatrao Ghorpade (Vijayanagara), Rizwan Arshad (Shivajinagara) and K.B. Chandrashekar (K.R. Pet)., Bhimmanna Naik (Yellapur), B.H. Bannikod (Hirekerur), K.B. Koliwad (Rannebennur), M. Anjanappa (Chikkaballapur), M. Narayanswamy (K.R. Pura), M. Shivaraj (Mahalakshmi Layout), Padmavathi Suresh (Hoskote) and H.P. Manjunath (Hunsur).

Of the 15 seats, 7 are in the state’s northwest and central regions, 5 in Bengaluru, 2 in old Mysuru region and one in Chikkaballapur.

The party has also fielded one woman — Padamavathy from Hoskote against three-time legislator and former minister M.T.B. Nagaraj of the BJP, the richest candidate in the state, with a whopping Rs 1,223 crore worth assets declared in his nomination affidavit.

Besides Nagaraj, the Congress also faces strong BJP contenders such as T. Sudhakar (Chikkaballapur), Ramesh Jorkiholi (Gokak), Anand Singh (Vijayanagara), Shivaram Hebbar (Yellapur) and B.C. Patil (Hirekeruru).

The 14 disqualified rebels expelled from the Congress are: Mahesh Kumatahalli, Srimanth B. Patil, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Pratap Gouda Patil, Shivaram Hebbar, B.C. Patil, R. Shankar, Anand Singh, K. Sudhakar, B.A. Basavaraj, S.T. Somashekar, Munirathna, R. Roshan Baig and M.T.B. Nagaraj.

The 3 disqualified rebels expelled from the JD-S are A.H. Vishwanath, K.C. Naryana Gowda and K. Gopalaiah.

The bye-elections will be held in Athani, Kagwad, Gokak, Yellapura, Hirekerur, Ranibennur, Vijaynagara, Chickballapura, K.R. Pura, Yeshwanthpura, Mahalakshmi Layout, Shivajinagara, Hosakote, K.R. Pete and Hunsur.

By-polls inAMuski (Raichur district) and R.R. Nagar (Bengaluru southwest) have been withheld due to litigation in the Karnataka High Court over their results in the May 2018 assembly elections.

The vote count is on December 9.

After the by-polls, in the 223-member assembly, the BJP will require the halfway mark of 112 for a simple majority, which is 7 more than 105 it has, including speaker to survive the trial of strength.Eom/930 words.

(Fakir Balaji can be contacted at [email protected])

Election

After defeat, Dinesh Gundu Rao resigns as KPCC president

The BJP had fielded 11 Congress and 3 JD-S defectors to wrest the seats from the opposition parties.

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Gundu Rao

Bengaluru, Dec 9 : Karnataka Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao on Monday tendered his resignation to the party chief Sonia Gandhi, after the party suffered a massive defeat in the by-elections.

“Taking moral responsibility, I am resigning as the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president,” said Rao at the Congress office.

Rao said that the Congress thought people will not favour the defectors, yet the BJP won.

“Operation Kamala has been ratified by the people,” said Rao, describing the way BJP attracted and fielded the disqualified Congress lawmakers.

The BJP had fielded 11 Congress and 3 JD-S defectors to wrest the seats from the opposition parties.

Rao said he will meet Congress president and submit a detailed report about the party’s rout in the bypolls.

Earlier, following a humiliating defeat in the by-elections, Siddaramaiah also resigned as the leader of opposition in state Assembly.

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Election

Rahul Gandhi questions PM’s silence over rape incidents

“Women and farmers are being targeted with bullets. Women cannot step out from their houses without fear,” Rahul said.

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Rahul Gandhi

Ranchi, Dec 9 : Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for maintaining silence over rape incidents in the country.

“India has become rape capital of the world. Prime Minister Narendra Modi maintains silence over rape incidents. His MLA in Uttar Pradesh was accused of a woman’s rape, he maintained silence. The women are being burnt, shot down and raped in the country but Modi maintains silence,” said Rahul Gandhi, while addressing a rally at Hazaribagh district’s Barkagao, where five farmers were killed while protesting land acquition by the state government two years ago.

“Women and farmers are being targeted with bullets. Women cannot step out from their houses without fear,” Rahul said.

“Modi claims protecting farmers. Whereas, the farmer’s land is being snatched. When farmers protest, they are killed. We had brought Land Acquisition Act to protect farmers’ land. As per the Act, farmers’ land cannot be acquired without permission of the Panchayat but MOdi opposed it. Modi asked his Chief Minister not to implement the Act,” said Rahul Gandhi.

“MOdi claims to fight against corruption, but his Jharkhand Chief Minister is the most corrupt politician,” he alleged.

He further targeted Modi on political issues such as demonetisation and GST.

“Modi’s face is shown on TV because your (People) money is being handed over to Adani and Ambani. Have you seen MOdi embracing farmers or poor people but you have seen him embracing the industrialists. This government is being run for only 10 to 15 industrialists. The PSUs are being handed over to these companies. The Centre is ending the government employees’ pension,” said Rahul Gandhi.

“Under UPA regime, the economy was growing and world used to learn from India. The economy of the country has worsened under Modi government. There is an environment of hatred in the country,” the former Congress chief said.

“Modi government is waiving loan of rich people but ignoring poor and farmers. This will not be tolerated. There cannot be two form in the country. We need single where loan of both poor, farmers and rich are waived off,” he added.

Rahul promised to increase minimum support price (MSP) of paddy from existing Rs 1300 per quintal to Rs 2500, waiving loan of farmers upto Rs 2 lakh and implementing 27 per cent reservation to back caste people. He also promised to implement the land acquisition Act in Jharkhand if voted to power.

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Election

Modi hails Karnataka results, says Congress taught a lesson

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MODI

Ranchi, Dec 9 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the bypoll results in Karnataka and said that those who formed the government through backdoor ignoring people’s mandate have been taught a lesson. The Prime Minister was speaking at a rally in Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh on Monday.

“The Karnataka bypoll results is answer to the Congress which grabbed the power through backdoor. It is also answer to all states where mandate of people has been ignored,” said Modi.

He further said, “People have responded through democratic way. Today bypoll results have decided who would rule Karnataka. The BJP was given mandate but Congress hatched a conspiracy and grabbed the power from backdoor. It is the old habit of the Congress to play behind the curtain. People have now punished them. People have chosen a stable and strong government for development of Karnataka”.

The BJP is heading for a landslide victory in Karnataka Assembly by-elections, as it is ahead in 12 of the 15 seats it contested on December 5, as the final result is yet to be declared.

“The people of Jharkhand should also learn from Karnataka. The situation like Karnataka should not crop up in Jharkhand after the polls. The Congress has never believed in coalition politics. They have treated allies like puppets in lieu of support,” Modi further said.

“If there is a hung Assembly, Jharkhand will witness Karnataka like situation”, Modi warned.

He cautioned people that they would not get the benefit of the central government’s schemes if BJP is not voted back to power.

Modi once again targeted the Congress for keeping the issues of Ram temple and Article 370 pending for 70 years. “Now the Constitution of India has been implemented in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

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