Karnataka bypolls: In Maski, loss of prestige for the ruling BJP

For the BJP, Maski Assembly seat was prestigious because the battle here, unlike the ones in Belagavi and Maski, was necessitated because its candidate, earlier with the Congress, had defected to the party and later been disqualified. BJP candidate Pratapgouda Patil was among the 17 MLAs of the then ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition who defected to the BJP and helped it come to power in the State.

However, the anti-incumbency wave sweeping across the constituency against Mr. Patil has resulted an impressive win for Congress candidate Basanagouda Turvihal, who was with the BJP back in 2018. Mr. Turvihal won the election by 30,606 votes against Mr. Patil, who polled 55,731 votes.

Mr. Patil had won all the three elections held in Maski — in 2008 as BJP candidate and in 2013 and 2018 as Congress candidate — after the Scheduled Tribe constituency came into existence following the delimitation of Assembly constituencies in 2008.

Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa had deployed his son and BJP State vice-president B.Y. Vijayendra to ensure Mr. Patil’s victory. Mr. Vijayendra left no stone unturned to keep the pride and prestige of his father and party, but to no avail.

The lack of visible development despite being in power for the last 13 years and Mr. Vijayendra’s alleged intervention in every matter created an “anti-Patil sentiment”, both in the constituency and the party, say observers. His homecoming had triggered dissent and resulted in Mr. Turvihal quitting the party to join the Congress.

Mr. Patil’s consistent opposition to the NRBC 5A canal irrigation project also backfired. There was a strong anti-Patil campaign in 58 villages that would benefit from the irrigation project if implemented. Mr. Yediyurappa had also turned down the demand during his poll campaign in Maski.

Mr. Turvihal losing in the 2018 election to Mr. Patil on a slender margin of just 213 votes had also created sympathy for him. The absence of a third strong candidate that could have split Congress votes was another advantage for him. The unprecedented unity displayed by the local Congress leaders such as N.S. Boseraju, Hampanagowda Badarli, and Amaregouda Bayyapur, who collectively worked for Congress candidate, was an added advantage for Mr. Turvihal.

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