In a major embarrassment for the Congress ahead of the 2018 Karnataka polls, the party lost the mayoral elections in Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s home turf at the last minute following some dramatic circumstances.
Congress rebel, S Bhagyavathi, who had reportedly gone missing the night before, joined hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal (Secular) to beat the party’s official candidate, Kamala, on Wednesday.
As only a Scheduled Caste woman could be elected as Mayor this year, Bhagayavathi was the only other eligible candidate.
Despite the party’s hierarchy insisting she back down – for they had already nominated Kamala – Bhagyavathi still entered the electoral fray and emerged victorious in the 65-member council, winning by 43 votes.
The JD(S) and Congress had both won 20 seats each, while the BJP won 13. However, it struck an alliance with the JD(S) to sink the Congress’ hope of winning the mayoral polls.
Knowing that numbers were not on their side, Congress corporators staged a walkout, terming the elections ‘illegal’.
The results came at a time when the Chief Minister was in the district, launching a government-led development programme.
Incidentally, the JD (S) supports the Congress in the BBMP council.
Commenting on the development, political analyst and a professor at Mysore University Muzaffar Assadi said, “The situation was different – it was a basically conscious decision with a lot of bargain. But this is an overnight coup. This is a message for the Congress, that the JD(S) is not a dependable ally. There is a section in the Congress which has confidence on the JD(S).”
“For the JD (S) this might send a wrong message and it might lose on minority votes by joining hands with the BJP,” he added.
However, another political analyst and a professor at the Dharwad University Harish Ramaswamy refuses to see too much into this,
"I don't think that this is a message that the JD(S) will only align with the BJP post polls. At local levels, these kind of things happen. As things stand, JD(S) will play the role of the kingmaker and can swing either way based on the situation," he said.