Sharat Bachegowda was with the BJP but contested as an independent as the party offered the ticket to MTB Nagaraj

news Karnataka Bye-polls Monday, December 09, 2019 - 15:01

Karnataka’s richest politician, MTB Nagaraj, suffered a massive defeat in the bye-elections that were held on December 5. Independent candidate Sharat Bachegowda defeated Nagaraj. 

“I am extremely happy that the people of Hoskote believed in me and made me win. I would like to say that today is a victory for the self-respecting electorate. Even though I did not have the backing of national leaders, state leaders or any regional ones either, the people elected me. Since I filed my nomination, I had the people’s support and I knew I had a huge chance of winning,” Sharat Bachegowda said. 

He said that MTB Nagaraj lost as he had failed to gain the support of the BJP workers and that the Congress workers, who felt betrayed by him too, did not support him. 

“MTB Nagaraj left the Congress and without consulting with BJP workers or anyone here (Hoskote), joined the BJP. He failed to gain the support of the people. I had never promised to let go of my aspiration to contest even when he wanted to join the party,” he said. 

Sharat Bachegowda, however, said that he has not decided whether he would offer his support to the BJP. “I have to discuss with my elders and a few leaders before making any decision,” he said. 

Former BJP Yuva Morcha General Secretary, Sharat Bachegowda, had rebelled against his own party and contested as an independent from Hoskote. Sharat Bacchegowda had openly expressed his displeasure for being sidelined by the BJP. His father, the BJP MP from Chikkaballapura, Bache Gowda, had distanced himself from his son’s campaign. 

However, BJP sources say that Sharat Bachegowda was able to win because of the support he received from BJP workers in Hoskote. Sources indicated that several of the BJP cadre, loyal to Sharat, had worked to defeat MTB Nagaraj in the bye-elections. 

Bachegowda’s campaign primarily targeted MTB Nagaraj’s massive wealth. He accused Nagaraj of corruption and positioned himself as the anti-corruption crusader. 

The situation in Hoskote was similar to the Lok Sabha elections in Mandya, where independent candidate Sumalatha Ambareesh defeated former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil Kumaraswamy. Sumalatha had received the support of Congress party workers in Mandya, despite Nikhil being the coalition’s chosen candidate. 

MTB Nagaraj was one of the 17 rebel MLAs from Congress and JD(S), whose defection in July led to the fall of the coalition government headed by HD Kumaraswamy, making way for the BJP to clinch power in the state. Curiously, his affidavit for the upcoming bye-election in Hoskote, where he is contesting on a BJP ticket, shows 53 term deposits mainly between August 2 and 7, amounting to over Rs 48 crore. Bachegowda had used this against Nagaraj in his election campaign. 

MTB Nagaraj, once known to be close to former Congress Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, had tendered his resignation on July 11 along with former /incumbent MLA from Chikkaballapura, Dr K Sudhakar. The resignation of these two leaders had come as a shock to many as they were considered to be loyal to the Congress. MTB Nagaraj started his political career as a Congress party worker and was promoted to Hoskote District Congress Committee President in the early 1990s. 

Siddaramaiah had banked on the sentiments of the people from Hoskote and had called Nagaraj a betrayer, “who must be taught a lesson”. 

Congress leaders DK Shivakumar and Dinesh Gundu Rao had also campaigned for Padmavati Suresh. Congress leaders say that Nagaraj’s defeat is a reminder that the powerful too can be defeated. Party sources say that Nagaraj’s defeat is a reminder of the time when heavyweight Deve Gowda too had lost elections multiple times.