In a major embarrassment for the Bharatiya Janata Party, two days before the Ramanagara assembly by-poll, its candidate against Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy's wife quit the contest on Thursday and return to the Congress.
With BJP's L Chandrashekhar withdrawing his candidature for the November 3 polls, Kumaraswamy's wife Anita Kumaraswamy, is expected to have a smooth sail facing a virtual no-contest.
Announcing his decision to return to his 'mother party', the Congress, Chandrashekhar accused BJP and its leaders of 'abandoning' him after giving him the ticket.
"After welcoming me to the BJP by giving party flag, Yeddyurappa (state BJP chief) or any other leaders did not join me for campaigning. They neglected Ramanagara due to internal squabble between the leaders within the party," he told reporters.
Alleging Yeddyurappa did not even answer his phone calls, Chandrashekhar said, he was worried about his political future in the BJP and hence decided to withdraw from the poll fray.
"Saddened about the attitude of leaders and system that exists within the BJP, I have decided not to have any association with the party, I'm returning to my mother party Congress," he said, with Bengaluru rural Congress MP D K Suresh seated next to him.
Chandrashekhar, son of a senior Congress leader C M Lingappa, had joined BJP as the Congress decided to support the candidate of its ruling coalition partner, Janata Dal-Secular.
Within days after joining the BJP, he was announced as the party's candidate.
"By remaining in the Congress party, I will extend my support to the coalition candidate..." Chandrashekar said.
This development just ahead of polls is being seen as senior Congress leader D K Shivakumar and his brother D K Suresh's response to the BJP's alleged attempts to weaken the coalition government by trying to 'poach' Congress MLAs.
Reacting to the development, Yeddyurappa alleged that Chandrashekhar has been brought for money by Shivakumar.
"Shivakumar and brother (D K Suresh) have brought (him) back, by giving money. I got the information just now. God bless them," he told reporters in Shivamogga.
By-election to Ramanagara was necessitated as it fell vacant after Kumaraswamy gave up the seat preferring Chennapatna, the other seat he had won in the May assembly polls.
By-polls for three Lok Sabha constituencies- Shivamogga, Ballari and Mandya and two assembly constituencies, Ramanagara and Jamkhandi, will take place on November 3.
The counting of votes would be on November 6.