In a blow to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) plans of making inroads into the Vokkaliga heartland of Ramanagaram, L. Chandrashekar, the party’s candidate for the Legislative Assembly by-elections to the Ramanagaram constituency, retired from the contest just two days ahead of polling on Saturday.

Originally from Congress, he had joined the BJP only in October and was given a ticket from the party. Mr. Chandrashekar announced his decision to retire from the contest and re-join Congress on Thursday, accompanied by D.K. Suresh, Congress MP of Bengaluru-Rural.

Mr. Chandrashekar’s U-turn has shocked BJP leaders, and this will ensure smooth sailing for the Janata Dal (Secular) (JD-S) candidate Anita Kumaraswamy, wife of of Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy.

The BJP has no strong vote bank in the constituency dominated by the Vokkaliga community.

Mr. Chandrashekar had quit the Congress and joined the BJP in the presence of State BJP president B. S. Yeddyurappa three weeks ago.

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