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Deve Gowda rises from the dust
By Nigar Ataulla

Continued from

There is another interesting dimension to the poll outcome. The party that indeed bit the dust is the BJP. Its former state president K.S. Eshwarappa was not only pushed to the third position, but has also forfeited the deposit by securing less than one-sixth of the total votes polled. . Leave alone coming second, the principal Opposition party in the state Assembly has not even been able to come anywhere near it. The BJP is in third place everywhere, including in its fiefs of Anekal and Uttarahalli Assembly segments, where the Congress has emerged winner. The BJP was in the second position during the last Parliamentary elections when its candidate had lost narrowly against the Congress candidate. 

The lacklustre performance of the BJP candidate is bound to aggravate the internal problems in the party which has been sliding down steadily in the state. Deve Gowda's victory is a bigger problem for the main Opposition in the legislative assembly, BJP. About a dozen BJP legislators are threatening to seek separate seating arrangements in the assembly when it begins its session. Any such split coupled with the possible unification of the two factions of the Janata Dal - the Secular and the United (headed by Ramakrishna Hegde) groups - would change the picture of the opposition benches in the legislative assembly. . While the victory has given a fresh lease of life to Deve Gowda in national politics, the most important lesson of the election is the message it gives to the Janata Dal factions on the need for unity and the warning for the Congress(I) that life may not be easy for the party when it has to contend with a unified Janata Dal. The Congress(I) had gained from the Janata Dal splits in the past, but it had lost in 1994 whe the Dal was divided. To that extent the Kanakapura outcome may have a bearing on the state's politics in the coming months. An unsavoury feature of the election, which may not bode well for the state, is the increased level of violence, including murder and group clashes that it witnessed. Leaders of political parties and their workers need to keep it in mind that elections are a civilised and orderly test of popular will and violence can only degrade politics, however important any contest is for their parties. 

Analysists attribute Gowda's victory to "sympathy factor" which worked in his favour. Also 'non-cooperation' by his party leaders also led to the Shiv Kumar defeat. Meanwhile the Communist Party of India (CPI) has expressed happiness over the by-poll results. In a release here, party leaders termed the results as a referendum on the performance of the Congress government "which pursued anti-labour and anti-peasant policies." 

Several other factors also seem to have made an impact. Starting with senior Janata Dal (U) leader Ramakrishna Hegde's blessings for Deve Gowda's contest as common candidate of the Janata Dal (S) and Janata Dal (U), the sudden softening of equations between the feuding duo, infused the second line leaders and cadres yearning for party unity, with hope of a better tomorrow. Galvanised from a position of virtual joblessness, they took on the challenge as a do or die fight as they knew the stakes were too high for the Dal, compared to the Congress and BJP.

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