Bengaluru: While the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) are celebrating their landslide victory in the Mandya Lok Sabha bypoll, the BJP is not down in the dumps either. Although it lost the bypoll, it polled over 2.4 lakh votes, almost three times the number it has won in previous LS polls.
In fact, so overwhelmed was the BJP candidate, Dr Siddaramaiah, that he distributed sweets among party workers to thank them for their efforts that fetched the party the 2,44,305 votes it never imagined it could win. In the 2009 parliamentary polls, the BJP won less than 10, 000 votes and although it did better in 2014, winning 80, 000 votes, it expected to get a mere 1.25 lakh votes this time in the Vokkaliga dominated constituency, where the election is fought on caste lines.
It was after its Vokkaliga leader, former Deputy Chief Minister, R Ashok and former MLC, Ashwathnarayanagowda refused to contest from Mandya that the party chose Dr Siddaramaiah, a former revenue officer and son of an ex- Mandya MLA, to contest from the constituency.
A political novice, his selection surprised many in the party as he was no match for Mr Shivaramegowda of the JD(S).
But he toured all the seven assembly constituencies in the district and built a rapport with the people. Although state BJP chief, B S Yeddyurappa toured the district once, Dr Siddaramaiah largely managed the show himself with the help of Mr Ashok and Mr Ashwathnarayanagowda.
“It’s only a beginning of the BJP’s efforts to make an inroad into the district, ” Dr Siddaramaiah declared following the results. The fact that the BJP polled over two lakh votes has not gone down well among Congress and JD(S) leaders, who believe it indicates a slow polarisation of votes in Mandya.
Should the JD(S) field Nikhil Kumaraswamy, son of Chief Minister, H D Kumaraswamy, or Ms Lakshmi Ashwin Gowda, a retired IRS officer, from the constituency in the 2019 Lok Sabha poll as rumoured, the BJP could field Dr Siddaramaiah again, according to party sources.