Byelections to two Assembly constituencies in Karnataka to be held on November 3

Published : October 20, 2020 19:03 IST

Munirathna (centre), accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister C.N. Ashwathnarayan (right) and Revenue Minister R. Ashoka, on his way to file his nomination papers for the byelection in R.R. Nagar in Bengaluru on October 14. Photo: THE HINDU

Elections to two Legislative Assembly constituencies in Karnataka, Sira in Tumakuru district and R.R. (Rajarajeshwari) Nagar, which is part of Bengaluru Rural Lok Sabha constituency, are slated to be held on November 3. The results will be declared on November 10. While the results will not have any impact on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the State which has a slender, but secure majority, the byelections are becoming a matter of prestige for the BJP, the Indian National Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular), the three main political parties in the State.

In Sira, the death of B. Satyanarayana, the JD (S) Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) in August this year has necessitated the byelection. Election has to be conducted for the R.R. Nagar constituency because of the defection of Congress legislator Munirathna to the BJP as part of Operation Kamala, the name under which the BJP lured rival party MLAs, leading to the downfall of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government in July last year.

While the byelections to 15 seats held by the rebel MLAs were conducted in December 2019, the election to the R.R. Nagar constituency was postponed because the losing BJP candidate in the 2018 elections had filed a petition in the Karnataka High Court accusing the victor, Munirathna, of electoral malpractice following the seizure of 10,000 fake voter ID cards from an apartment in the constituency.

With the court giving the go-ahead for the election, Munirathna, the two-time winner from R.R. Nagar, is in the fray again, now as a BJP candidate. Since the downfall of the JD(S)-Congress coalition government, B.S. Yediyurappa is committed to supporting the rebel MLAs who crossed over to the BJP, ensuring his appointment as Chief Minister. He lobbied hard to get the party ticket for Munirathna as there was considerable opposition to his candidature.

Challenging Munirathna is Kusuma Hanumantharayappa from the Congress, daughter of Hanumantharayappa and wife of D.K. Ravi, the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer who committed suicide in 2015. Her father has been active in politics for a considerably long time and was, in fact, the JD(S) candidate for the same constituency in 2008. The JD(S) has fielded V. Krishnamurthy, but it increasingly looks like a straight fight between the BJP and the Congress.

In Sira in Tumakuru district, the Congress got off to an early start by naming former Law Minister T.B. Jayachandra as its candidate, a veteran politician who is a six-time MLA. The BJP has named Rajesh Gowda, a radiologist who is the son of a former Congress Member of Parliament (MP).

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