Former Prime Minister Deve Gowda, who filed his nomination from the Tumkur Lok Sabha seat on Monday, is suddenly confronted with unexpected opposition from Muddahanume Gowda, a Congress rebel from the same constituency.
The Congress had left the seat for the JDS, much against the will of Muddahanume Gowda, the MP from the constituency, and party workers.
If this was not enough, his grandsons, Nikhil and Prajwal, who are making their debut in politics, are also facing a major hurdle in their respective constituencies, namely, Mandya and Hassan. In both, angry Congress workers and party leaders have openly come out against their party’s decision to surrender the seats to the JDS.
In Tumkur, the former Prime Minister is facing an unexpected hurdle from a member of the alliance partner, the Congress. This is the constituency Deve Gowda has been forced to pick as he had earlier decided to leave his pet Lok Sabha seat in Hassan for grandson Prajwal.
Recently, Gowda did have second thoughts on going back to Hassan while preparing Prajwal to contest from Bengaluru North. But as The Statesman learns, Prajwal’s father and PWD minister in H D Kumaraswamy’s ministry, Revanna, was not keen on the change. Especially, as his wife, Bhavani, is the president of the zila parishad in Hassan and has been nurturing the constituency for Prajwal after Deve Gowda declared late last year that he was leaving the seat for the grandson. Accordingly, the former Prime Minister has now been forced to contest from Tumkur, a seat he is not too comfortable with today.
Besides, with Congress workers openly coming out against the party’s decision to cede the seat to the JDS, Deve Gowda finds himself in a tricky situation as the prospects of seeking support from the workers of the alliance partner in Tumkur for campaigning may not be easy.
The Tumkur seat was won by Muddahanume Gowda on a Congress ticket in 2014. He had pipped BJP’s Basvaraj to the post with the latter getting 3.55 lakh votes. The JDS came third with 2.58 lakh votes. Obviously, therefore, Deve Gowda may not find the going too smooth here.
Considering his win last time, Muddahanume Gowda is not willing to cede his seat and has, therefore, filed his nomination on Monday and that too on a Congress ticket, defying his leadership. This is a headache which the former Prime Minister’s family had not expected at all, believing as it did that the campaign would be smooth sailing with the help of Congress, the alliance partner of the JDS.
In Hassan, Prajwal will have to face the challenge posed by A Manju, former minister and Congress leader, who switched over to the BJP recently. Manju, like several other Congress workers and leaders in the constituency, was miffed with the party for vacating the seat for the JDS and what he himself claimed “was the wrong his party was indulging in by helping Deve Gowda promote his family in politics.”
The constituency over which the former Prime Minister has held sway for long has over 15 lakh voters and comprises the assembly segments of Arkalgud, Kadur, Sakleshpur, Hassan, Holenarasipur, Belur, Shravanabelagola, Arsikere. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Deve Gowda romped home from Hassan with 509,841 votes with A Manju of the Congress bagging 409,379. BJP’s Vijayshankar managed only 1.6 lakh votes.
Revanna has been working day and night to ensure that his son makes it to the Lok Sabha. Accordingly, he, Bhavani and brother and chief minister H D Kumaraswamy, are trying their best to woo the Congress rebels.
As a senior JDS leader said, “We all know what type of wooing the JDS is capable of,” referring perhaps to the fact that the party, particularly the Gowda family, has its own ways of convincing people.
If this was not enough, the Gowda family’s ambition to see another grandson succeed in Mandya is also facing a roadblock. Kumaraswamy’s son, Nikhi, who thought that Mandya would be a cakewalk, is now confronted with Sumalatha, wife of the late actor and popular politician, Ambareesh.
Even though the Congress gave up the seat in favour of JDS this time, she did not relent and is contesting as an Independent, encouraged by the huge Ambareesh fan clubs in Mandya and the support of Congress rebels.
Majority of the Congressmen are coming out in support of Sumalatha who has also got the needed encouragement in that the BJP has also decided now against putting up a candidate against her.
This explains why Kumaraswamy and family have been visiting all the possible temples in the constituency, banking as it is on the support of the Vokkaligga community in the region.
The seat was bagged by C Puttaraju of the JDS in 2014 who beat Ramya of the Congress, bagging 5.24 lakh votes. Ramya had got 5.18 lakh votes. Decidedly, this will be a tough call for Nikhil, going by the available trend.