It is now down to video wars between the Congress and the BJP in what could be called a prestige issue between the parties for the Assembly bypolls in Nanjangud and Gundlupet in Karnataka.
A video has surfaced showing the Karnataka BJP president BS Yeddyurappa allegedly giving money to a family in Chamrajanagar district.
India Today spoke to BS Yeddyurappa, who clarified that he was offering monetary help to a farmer family whose breadwinner had just committed suicide a few days ago.
“Why would a family who has lost a member even think of taking money for votes? It was an act on humanitarian grounds and I gave it to them from the party funds, which we have allocated to help farmers in distress,” said Yeddyurappa.
TWO VIDEOS IN TWO DAYS
A day ago, another video had surfaced wherein a Congress leader was found carrying money during campaign.
The video showed the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee Mahila President Laxmi Hebbalkar with wads of Rs 2,000 notes in Chamarajanagar.
Both the videos have been submitted to the Election Commission for verification.
KARNATAKA ASSEMBLY BYPOLLS: 10 THINGS TO KNOW
The Nanjangud by-election will be the first litmus test for the Congress in Karnataka as the government is in the last year of its tenure. The usually quiet temple town of Nanjangud has now turned into a battleground of political revenge.
The Nanjangud seat fell vacant after the resignation of veteran Congress leader V Srinivas Prasad in December last year. He was miffed with the Congress after he was dropped from the Cabinet. Prasad later joined the BJP.
Not only has it become a prestige issue for the Congress and the BJP, the election result is expected to show who has better reach among the voters. Karnataka’s chief minister Siddaramaiah is trying every bit to neutralise Srinivas Prasad’s effect on the party in the bypoll.
Srinivas Prasad was the revenue minister when he was dropped from the cabinet. The news apparently reached Prasad through media. Srinivas Prasad complained that CM Siddaramaiah did not even show the courtesy of informing him about his sacking.
On his party, Siddaramaiah defended his decision of sacking Srinivas Prasad. Sources said that Srinivas Prasad was removed as he could not handle the revenue portfolio effectively due to his deteriorating health.
For Siddaramaiah, the bypoll seems to be a reminder of his own 2006 by-election from Chamundeshwari. Siddaramaiah had won the seat by a very thin margin of just 257 votes.
The BJP is hoping to make an impact as Prasad is expected to consolidate the Dalit votes for the party. Dalits constitute close to 30 per cent of voters in the constituency. Yeddyurappa is campaigning aggressively for Karnataka by-polls. He has openly backed Srinivas Prasad.
The BJP has strong support base among the Lingayat community. Now, it hopes to forge a winning formula by bringing the Dalits it its fold before the 2018 Assembly election. But, there is a problem that many Dalits are unhappy with Srinivas Prasad after he joined the BJP.
Siddaramaiah has taken his report card of the last five years to the people including his Anna Bhagya, Shaadi Bhagya schemes which he expects to give him a comfortable lead. Nanjangud has been a stronghold for the Congress as the party has only lost nine of the 13 elections from this seat.
By-election is also being held in the Gundlupet constituency. This seat fell vacant after the demise of Mahadev Prasad, who was the Minister of Cooperation and Sugar in Siddaramaiah cabinet.