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Frequent squabbles between the Opposition Congress and the JD(S), which had formed a coalition government three years ago, seems to be advantageous for the ruling BJP in the bypolls to the two State Assembly constituencies of Hangal and Sindgi on October 30.

Leaders of both Opposition parties not only indulged in verbal duels in the just-concluded legislature session but also outside. JD(S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy’s outburst every now and then against Congress leader Siddaramaiah for the latter’s alleged lack of support during the coalition government has not gone down well with the loyalists of the latter. On the other hand, the JD(S) is miffed over KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar’s strategy of wooing its MLAs and leaders into Congress.

Another bone of contention has been the JD(S) decision to field candidates belonging to the minority community for both bypoll seats. The Congress leaders accuse the JD(S) of trying to divide the minority votes, thereby helping the BJP, a charge denied by Mr. Kumaraswamy. Split of minority votes could harm the electoral prospects of the Congress.

Mr. Kumaraswamy’s outbursts against the RSS is also seen by the Congress as aimed at drawing minority votes. The BJP is expected to strongly counter the criticism mounted on the RSS by both the Opposition parties to draw majority community voters. Polarisation of votes on community lines will ensure an upper hand to the BJP even before commencement of campaign.

No sign of unity

Experts say that unity among the Congress and the JD(S) could have projected them as a credible and viable alternative to the BJP, which is facing flak on multiple fronts, including the farmers’ protests. A perception of Opposition unity could contribute to a large swing of votes away from the ruling BJP. Fielding of candidates by all three major parties would lead to splitting of votes, particularly minorities, which could benefit the ruling BJP.

In Sindgi, the Congress has fielded Ashok Managuli, son of late MLA M.C. Managuli, who was with the JD(S). In Hangal, the party has fielded Srinivas V. Mane, who lost by 6,500 votes to the late C.M. Udasi of the BJP in 2018. Manohar Tahsildar, former MLA, too was an aspirant.

The ruling BJP has fielded Shivaraj Sajjanar in Hangal, belying expectations of Udasi’s daughter-in-law being picked, and Ramesh Bhusanur in Sindgi. The JD(S) has fielded Naziya Shakeel Ahmed Angadi from Sindgi and Niyaz Shaikh from Hangal. In a three-cornered contest, voters might throw their weight behind the ruling party, particularly in the bypolls, and this was the case in several constituencies that went to bypolls in the State in the last two years.