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Bypolls, Shivakumar’s first test as KPCC president

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: Being tasked with reviving Congress prospects in the state after a series of electoral debacles since the 2018 assembly polls, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president DK Shivakumar now faces the challenge of winning the two November 3 bypolls. Many see these bypolls as the first test of Shivakumar’s leadership as both Rajarajeshwarinagar and Sira constituencies are Vokkaligadominated. RR Nagar in Bengaluru was won by Congress in 2018 and is part of the Bengaluru Rural Lok Sabha segment represented by Shivakumar’s brother D K Suresh.

“These elections are important for Shivakumar to assert his leadership within the party and in his community,” Congress sources said. After a calculated risk of fielding a political greenhorn, H Kusuma, from the segment, Shivakumar is going all out to retain the seat. Suresh has been given charge of the elections. A Congress leader said that Suresh played a key role in Muniratna’s victory (on a Congress ticket) in the 2018 Assembly polls and now there is hope that the MP will do an encore, though Muniratna is contesting on a BJP ticket now.

Muniratna had then won the poll with a 25,000-vote margin against the BJP candidate, Muniraju Gowda. “We have a good chance of winning Sira, but it is difficult in RR Nagar as the entire party cadre was with Muniranta till recently,” said a Congress leader. “It is a direct fight between BJP and Congress. The JDS could play a spoiler.” But winning Sira is equally challenging for Congress.

Though senior leader T B Jayachandra is the party candidate, he is up against JDS candidate Ammajamma, wife of late Sira MLA Sathyanarayana, who hopes to ride a sympathy wave and the BJP, which is going all guns blazing. Besides two Deputy Chief Ministers Dr Ashwath Narayan and Govind Karjol, BJP state vice-president B Y Vijayendra and party state general secretary Ravi Kumar too are in charge of campaigning in the constituency. Shivakumar may be looking to consolidate his position in the community, but JDS too is desperate to retain its base in both constituencies. Meanwhile, a number of JDS local leaders from RR Nagar joined Congress on Friday as electioneering gained momentum.

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