A sympathy wave in their party’s favour was the least the BJP was expecting, after failing to get the numbers to win the vote of confidence. BS Yeddyurappa’s emotional speech, blaming the ‘unholy alliance’ of the JD(S) and Congress while announcing his resignation, was part of this desperate attempt play the victim card.
But the results of the Rajarajeshwari Nagar re-elections has poured cold water over the BJP’s hopes for garnering sympathy. On Thursday, the Congress won the RR Nagar constituency with a margin of over 25,400 votes.
Elections in RR Nagar were postponed after close to 10,000 voter ID cards were seized from an apartment in the constituency ahead of polling. The probe into the matter is still underway and MLA Munirathna is the 14th accused in the case.
The victory also comes as a relief for the Congress party, which is struggling in negotiations for cabinet berths. But the victory will not provide an edge to the party in the numbers game, as their total rally remains at 78 – one of the Congress MLAs had passed away in a road accident a few days after the elections.
In Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Congress Beats Anti-Incumbency
Despite being the incumbent MLA, Munirathna increases his vote share from 2013’s 37.4% to 42.13% in 2018.
Though they are allies, JD(S) had decided to contest against the Congress in Rajarajeshwari Nagar. The JD(S), which was number two in terms of vote share in 2013 (27.5%), dropped to the third position in 2018 (23%).
JD(S)’s loss was the BJP’s gain. The BJP increased its vote share in the constituency from 26.7% to 32%, but it wasn’t enough to catch up with the huge margin posted by Munirathna.
Candidate Selection: Congress’ Boon and Others’ Bane
Munirathna, a realtor and film producer, is one of the moneybags for the Congress party. His power, clubbed with the popularity in the constituency, had made him a certain candidate for the Congress from RR Nagar, even before the candidate selection had begun.
The BJP and the JD(S), however, were not able to find strong candidates against Munirathna. The BJP had to make a choice between two candidates – Tulasi Muniraju Gowda and GH Ramachandra. While the Yeddyurappa camp in the BJP fought for a ticket for Ramachandra, RSS-backed BL Santosh camp lobbied for Muniraju Gowda. Eventually, the RSS had its way.
A disgruntled Ramachandra then approached the JD(S), which was still in search of a candidate and Ramachandra soon changed colours from saffron to green. Even though JD(S) Supremo Deve Gowda himself campaigned for Ramachandra, he couldn’t make an impact in the elections.
Local Politics Key to Congress’ Victory
Even though Congress forming the government with the JD(S) helped the Congress party, according to local RR Nagar leaders, the work done by Munirathana was the prime reason for the win.
It was during an election rally in KR Puram that senior Congress leader Dinesh Gundu Rao mentioned that close to 50% of the Rs 7,000 crore special grant for Bengaluru allocated in the last budget were spent by MLAs of KR Puram, Yeshwantpur and Rajarajeshwari Nagar.
These funds spent in developmental works and Munirathna’s image as a strong politician are understood to be the reasons behind the Congress’ win in Rajarajeshwari Nagar.
No Gain for Congress in The Numbers Game
Although the win would have consolidated the Congress and alliance’s position, the death of one of the Congress MLAs in the road accident has nullified the victory’s impact on the total numbers. Congress MLA from Jamakhandi, Siddu Naraayanagouda, had died in a road accident two days ago.
The total tally of the Congress remains at 78 and the numbers of the MLAs with the JD(S)-Congress coalition remains at 117.
All eyes are now on Jayanagar, where on 11 June, the second re-election will take place. The re-election was called after the BJP candidate passed away before the polls. As the JD(S) is supporting the Congress candidate, a win for the Congress in Jayanagar will take the alliance toward a comfortable lead.