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Defectors to BJP win bypolls: Does party loyalty not matter in Karnataka elections?

The BJP in Karnataka led by Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa Monday won 12 of the 15 assembly seats on which bypolls were held.

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The BJP in Karnataka led by Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa Monday won 12 of the 15 assembly seats on which bypolls were held. All the BJP’s winning candidates had defected from the JD(S)-Congress ruling coalition at that time.

ThePrint asks: Defectors to BJP win bypolls: Does party loyalty not matter in Karnataka elections?

We would be misreading Karnataka bypoll results if we say that party loyalty does not matter in the state

Sandeep Shastri 
National Coordinator of Lokniti Network

We would be misreading Karnataka bypoll results if we say that party loyalty does not matter in the state. I think there are four factors to back this argument.

First, historically speaking, the ruling party has always done better when it comes to bypolls in Karnataka. Second, this election was integral to the stability of the BJP government in the state. I think that the citizens have voted with the hope that their electoral choices will help the BJP government last its term.

Third, candidates have won because of their own popularity and the strong vote base they enjoy in their respective constituencies. In fact, the BJP has acknowledged the same. Fourth, the BJP also did well because the opposition didn’t play its card right. The JD(S) and the Congress made no effort to come together. The Congress remained divided and its candidates were left on their own. The party has lost 10 seats to the BJP, which shows that it has a lot to reflect on. The JD(S) should debate too since it has lost three seats it had before the election.

Both the Congress and the JD(S) seem to be going by the principle “united we fall, divided we stand”. Further, I believe that even in constituencies where these two parties have lost, the BJP hasn’t won by a huge margin. It is important to note that the number of seats required in Karnataka to bring down the government was very small.

Karnataka bypoll results show defection not an issue for people. They have wholeheartedly accepted BJP

Tanveer Ahmed
National spokesperson, JD(S)

When all missionaries and government agencies are on one party’s side, I think the elections are bound to drift a certain way. Today, it seems like party loyalties don’t matter anymore, at least in Karnataka.

The Karnataka bypoll results show that might is right and the public has wholeheartedly accepted the BJP. I would give all credits to Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa. He has single-handedly managed to use his tantras to win the election regardless of political circumstances. India is a democracy, so this election result should be respected.

The results are proof that people in Karnataka don’t think defection is an issue. This shows they support the MLAs who were disqualified by former Karnataka Assembly Speaker Ramesh Kumar in July. Things seem to have worked out for the Congress and JD(S) MLAs who defected to the BJP.

Yediyurappa deserves all the praise because he is the only face of the BJP in Karnataka. Clearly, the defection of Congress and NCP leaders didn’t work well for the BJP in Maharashtra. It would have only worked in Karnataka, which it did. It’s fair to say that more than the entire BJP, it is Yediyurappa who has emerged as the sole victor.

BJP is turning out to be pan-Karnataka party and this is the most important takeaway

Pradeep Bhandari
Chief editor, Jan Ki Baat 

On the Karnataka bypoll results, I believe there are two key factors at play. First, people have voted for stability. In the past, when the alliance was ruling, there was constantly an atmosphere of unpredictability. So, there was always the possibility of an alliance breaking if the Congress and the JD(S) once again decided to come together. The MLAs in Karnataka, who defected to the BJP, won in their personal capacities.

Second, the BJP witnessed an unprecedented win in two constituencies. It won a seat from KR Pet that has traditionally been a JD(S) stronghold. Moreover, the BJP’s K. Sudhakar won from Chikkaballapur despite the caste majority being against him. The BJP had never won these seats until now.

In the past, the BJP has only won seats from north Karnataka. And winning from these key constituencies this time shows the BJP is establishing itself as a pan-Karnataka party. This is the most important takeaway from these results.

I think defection didn’t work as a factor because the Congress-JD(S) alliance was short-lived. Public opinion company Jan ki Baat predicted this ground reality early on.

Voters can’t be blamed because BJP spent money on each vote & promised ministerial berths

Brijesh Kalappa
Congress spokesperson

I don’t think that it is fair to place the onus on the voters. Voters are just looking for stability and development in their own constituencies. The Karnataka bypoll results have played out in the way they always have. Traditionally, voters reward the ruling party in bypolls.

Moreover, when Yedyiurappa announced during his campaigns that a particular candidate will be given a particular ministerial berth, the opposition parties stopped mattering to the voter. In light of all the promises being made to the voter, he or she prefers to vote for the prospective ‘minister’ directly.

Defections played out very differently in the case of Maharashtra. This happened alongside the state assembly elections, which wasn’t the case in Karnataka. It must be known that for each vote, the BJP has supposedly spent more than Rs 12,000 per woman. In some cases, it also probably purchased gold rings. On average, the BJP has spent more than Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 per vote. So, the voters can’t be blamed for voting for the BJP. They want stability for their constituencies and their decisions in that regard are perfectly justified.

In Karnataka, voters voted for stability and a single-party government

Vivek Subba Reddy
Media panelist, BJP Karnataka 

I think the people of Karnataka have voted for the BJP keeping in mind the horrible experiences they witnessed while under the Congress-JD(S) coalition. I feel that the voters were in favour of stability.

The coalition was constantly fighting. The JD(S) and the Congress had no stability in the state. Their consensus was only on corruption, that too at a time when there should have been a consensus on development.

In my opinion, it is for the people to decide whether defection is correct or incorrect. The Supreme Court did accept and uphold the disqualification of 17 MLAs in Karnataka. However, the voters have taken a completely different view in that regard. I think that they wanted only a single-party government to be constituted since the alliance didn’t work out very well.

In the case of Maharashtra, there was a time when the coalition between the Shiv Sena and the BJP was blessed by the people. However, one party betrayed the alliance. How the people perceive this betrayal remains to be seen.

Also read: For many in Karnataka BJP, new chief Nalin Kateel isn’t popular or influential enough

By Kairvy Grewal, journalist at ThePrint 

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  1. Each defector – apart from receiving a prince’s ransom to cross over and generous support to fight the bypoll – must have been handpicked for individual electoral merit. So not too many surprises there. 2. The Congress should introspect, unable to save such a valuable government, Siddharamiah doing more harm than good. Its candidates – as also seen in Maharashtra recently – fight on their own wits, largely orphaned by the distant high command in Delhi. 3.Father and son, small hearted carpetbaggers, neither vision, nor the integrity of coalition dharma.

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