The result of the two Assembly seats, for which by-elections are being held on May 19, is crucial for the survival of the one-year-old JD(S)-Congress coalition government but Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy keeping away from election campaign has caused a big worry among the Congress leaders in Karnataka.
While the Congress and the BJP leaders are engaged in a no-holds-barred attack during the hotly contested Chincholi and Kundagol segment amid searing summer heat, Kumaraswamy’s apathy to jump into the campaign trail is giving sleepless nights to Congress leaders.
Congress is under pressure to retain the two seats it held during the previous election. While Chincholi seat was vacated by former Congress leader Umesh Jadhav, who quit Congress to contest as BJP candidate against Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjuna Kharge, the by-poll is being held for Kundagol seat after the sudden death of sitting member and minister CS Shivalli.
Kumaraswamy, who toiled hard in the just-concluded campaign for the Lok Sabha elections especially in the seats allocated to JD(S) under coalition election seat sharing formula, has chosen to take ‘rest’ and returned to a private resort in Kodagu district, keeping himself away from the hurly-burly by-election campaign.
The coalition government is surviving on a thin majority in the 225-member Karnataka assembly. Any set back to Congress candidates in the two Assembly seats will jeopardize the stability of the State government.
Former Chief Minister and the BJP’s strong man B S Yeddyurappa, during his campaign trail in Kundagol, said the days of survival of the coalition government was numbered and it will collapse post-May 23 when counting for Lok Sabha segments is taken up.
He expressed confidence that BJP would wrest both the Assembly seats and increase its tally in the Karnataka Assembly to 106 from the present 104 and with the support of three independents it will be a force to reckon with and this would lead to the collapse of the coalition government.
Knowing well about the consequences of the by-election, the Congress leaders are making all the efforts to pursue Chief Minister to take part in the campaign in their efforts to drum up the support to the coalition candidates in both the Kundagol and the Chincholi assembly seats.
According to JD(S) party circles, Chief Minister, who is upset with the Congress leader’s non-cooperation in the Mandya Lok Sabha seat, where his son Nikhil K is contesting, had contributed his decision to stay away from the campaign.
Speaking to the media, Ramesh Babu, former MLC and the JD(S) spokesperson said: “Chief Minister has chosen to take rest after taking part in the grueling campaign for the Lok Sabha elections”.
“There is a precedent that no chief minister should campaign in the by-elections, with a few exceptions. Anyway, the two seats are held by Congress and there should not be a problem for our coalition partner to retain them,” he said.
However, he also did not rule out Chief Minister taking part in the election campaign in the coming days.