The humiliating drubbing that the Janata Dal (Secular) received in the byelections to Sindgi saw the shifting of a large percentage of votes in favour of the BJP. While the party is disappointed, leaders now claim the result was expected and they are looking ahead with a focus on the 2023 Assembly elections.
As per internal post-poll calculations, most of the votes that the JD(S) commanded in 2018 has gone to the BJP and some to the Congress. The party’s vote share in Sindgi plummeted from 44.15% in 2018, when the former Minister late M.C. Manuguli was elected, to a mere 2.66%, thus relegating the party to a distant third.
“It looks like the voters have favoured the BJP. The Congress may not have benefited much despite the late legislator’s son Ashok Manuguli being its candidate. The anticipated triangular fight did not happen at all,” sources said. “Because we were on the back foot, people voted for a stronger party. This is common in many byelections. We are not deterred since trends during Assembly elections provide a different picture.”
According to the former Minister Bandeppa Kashempur, the party had to fight to prove its existence. “The party lost grassroots machinery due to Mr. Ashok’s desertion. The party did not even have booth-level workers on the polling day. We had to field a candidate to prove our existence, which otherwise would have sent a wrong signal politically. The loss was expected, but the votes secured is disappointing,” he said.
He, however, said the party was not disheartened since people had turned up in big numbers to rallies addressed by the former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and party supremo H.D. Deve Gowda. “We remain focused on 2023, especially in the north Karnataka region.”
The party has so far lost four out of five seats that it won in 2018. While the party retained Ramanagaram after Mr. Kumaraswamy vacated the seat which his wife Anita Kumaraswamy later won, it lost K.R. Pet, Hunsur, Mahalakshmi Layout, Sira, and now Sindgi. These besides losing the parliamentary election from Mandya in 2019.
Another party source said that despite fielding a Muslim candidate to increase confidence among the minority community — an optics often seen by the Congress as a ploy to divide minority votes — the party may have not succeeded in endearing the minorities. “This result could force a rethink in the poll strategy for the party in future elections,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kashempur has suggested to Mr. Kumaraswamy to get a survey done to understand why the affection people showed him in rallies by thronging them had not translated to votes.