With many still undecided about voting, Congress poll managers are concentrating mainly on bringing the party workers to polling stations
Arshad, a staunch Congress worker in Ramanagaram, is a confused man. Having worked and voted for the Congress candidates irrespective of the poll prospects in the past, he and his family members are now undecided about voting on November 3.
This is the dilemma of many Congress workers in Ramanagaram constituency, which is going to bypolls, as Congress, a coalition partner in the State with Janata Dal (Secular), has extended support to JD(S) nominee Anitha Kumaraswamy, wife of Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.
With just three days left for the bypolls, Congress poll managers, including Bengaluru Rural MP D.K. Suresh and others, are concentrating on getting Congress sympathisers to vote. They believe that the turnout on the poll day may be far less than the 83% recorded in May. “We are expecting poll percentage to drop between 10% and 15% this election. It is not only owing to the indifference in Congress cadre, but also because a huge voter base of Ramanagaram is working in Bengaluru,” Mr. Suresh said.
According to him, there are almost 50 to 100 voters in every village who are employed in Bengaluru in garment industries, security agencies and hotel industry, among others. “Though a holiday has been declared in Ramanagaram, it will be a working day for most of them. We are asking our party workers to make that extra effort to bring people to polling booths to increase the margin of victory,” he said, adding that about 60% of voters are undecided and need to be convinced.
While the Congress leadership is independently and jointly taking part in the campaign, in villages, however, differences among the JD(S) and Congress party workers are stark. “We are campaigning for our candidate on our own. Neither are the Congress workers invited nor are they joining us. We are confident that our candidate will win,” said Shivarudraiah, a resident of Anjanapura village. He said leaders may have buried their differences owing to coalition compulsions, but party workers are deeply divided in the villages. Kade Gowda, a resident of Hosadoddi, said: “It would be difficult for Congress workers to solicit votes for the JD(S) candidate. It has never happened in the past.”
In this backdrop, many in the constituency believe that the BJP candidate Chandrasekhar could gain some Congress votes, though nowhere close to victory. The BJP has had limited presence so far and has always come third in the electoral battle. “Many I know are talking about abstaining from voting,” said Mr. Arshad. On the other hand, according to Mr. Shivarudraiah, some young voters have leaned towards BJP, but their numbers are not significant. Ms. Anitha Kumaraswamy has also faced voters’ ire at some places during campaigning as they questioned her presence only during elections.
Acknowledging the scenario, Mr. Suresh said: “The BJP candidate (Mr. Chandrasekhar) was a Congress worker and belongs to a family of Congressmen. His father and MLC, C.M. Lingappa, has been a veteran Congress leader. Some Congress leaders who are either related to Mr. Lingappa or friends are confused.”
He said they were expecting the BJP to get more votes than what they had secured in last elections. “That is why we are working on increasing the poll percentage for a better margin of victory,” he said.