Yogeshwar had defeated Ms Kumaraswamy in 2008 on a BJP ticket and went on to become a minister.
Bengaluru: In a major embarrassment to the BJP, L. Chandrashekar, the party’s candidate pitted against chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s wife, Anitha Kumaraswamy, in the bypoll to Ramanagara Assembly constituency, jumped ship and joined the Congress hours before campaigning drew to a close on Thursday.
Announcing his decision to return to his “mother party,” Mr Chandrashekar accused the BJP and its leaders of “abandoning” him after picking him for the bypoll. But his move triggered allegations by top BJP leaders of big bucks being used by the Congress-JD(S) coalition to “hijack” their candidate. “Both the Congress and JD(S) joined hands to embarrass the BJP in the byelections. I wish them luck for hijacking our candidate,” state unit president B.S. Yeddyurappa remarked with sarcasm.
Union minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, who is in charge of the elections in the Ramanagara Assembly constituency, also lambasted Mr Chandrashekar for quitting the party two days before polling. “The BJP thought Chandrashekar was a genuine politician after he left the Congress, but the party now realises that although he joined it, he has the Congress in his blood. The BJP will not forgive him for his betrayal and nor will the voters,” he added.
The “betrayal” strategy, however, was a well-crafted move by water resources minister D.K. Shivakumar, his younger brother D.K. Suresh, MP, and Mr Kumaraswamy to checkmate another Vokkaliga and former minister C.P. Yogeshwar’s plan to build a support base for the BJP in Ramanagara ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha polls.
Mr Yogeshwar had defeated Ms Kumaraswamy in 2008 on a BJP ticket and went on to become a minister. When he rejoined the saffron party after some party hopping, he was put in charge of both Ramanagara and Mandya districts. He was trying to emerge as the new Vokkaliga face in the region, but the families of Mr Shivakumar and Mr Kumaraswamy united to cut him to size.
Insiders of both parties said the coalition partners ensured that the BJP did not suspect any foul play till the last minute and pulled the rug from under it when it was least expecting it.