Karnataka by-polls: Deve Gowda focusing on three seats to avenge desertions to the BJP
Janata Dal Secular is hoping to deal the BJP, reeling from Maharashtra setback, another blow in Karnataka by defeating at least three of its rebels contesting the December 5 by-poll on saffron tickets. BJP needs to win at least six of the 15 by-poll seats to retain power in the state.
JD(S) may have fielded candidates on 12 of the 15 by-poll seats but the party’s star campaigners-- Deve Gowda, son Kumaraswamy, elder son H D Revanna and grandson Prajwal Revanna--are crisscrossing Hunsur, KR Pete and Mahalaksmi Layout constituencies with an aim to defeat the BJP candidates, who had dumped the JDS resulting in collapse of the coalition government in the state earlier this year.
Hunsur and KR Pete are rural seats and located in party’s stronghold of old Mysuru region while Mahalaxmi Layout is in Bengaluru, where the party has historically been weak .
In Hunsur, Deve Gowda accused BJP’s A H Vishwanath of “backstabbing” the JDS despite being anointed the state party president after having defected from the Congress. Prajwal Revanna and his father H D Revanna had earlier toured Honsur asking voters to reject Vishwanath.
Congress’ DK Shivkumar accused Vishwanath of backstabbing both the Congress and the JDS and asked voters to vote for the Congress candidate, H P Manjunath, instead.
“They will tear the pants and shirts of (BJP) leaders for the (injustice done). Vishwanath is somebody who backstabbed both Congress and JDS. This time therefore elect Manjunath,” Shivkumar said.
Vishwanath dismissed the criticism and said he will be voted for his work in the constituency.
In neighbouring K R Pete constituency, Kumaraswamy breathed fire against another JDS rebel and BJP candidate Naryanagowda, accusing him of “cut(ting) our throat”. “Voters should give a befitting reply by electing Devraj (the JDS candidate) and defeat the BJP,” he said.
In Bengaluru’s Mahalakshmi Layout, Kumaraswamy has asked party’s Vokkaliga support base to back a Lingayat candidate in Girish K Nashi, picked in a gamble to take on former rebel and BJP candidate K Gopaliah. Congress candidate from this seat, M Shivraj, is a Kuruba.
Kumaraswamy’s move surprised many, since the Lingayats- the most dominant community in the state—are seen as BJP Chief Minister BS Yeddiyurappa’s supporters.
“This was to ensure that all sections vote for a secular candidate. We are not into revenge politics, but to save democracy,” Kumaraswamy had said last week.
Political analysts feel the JDS is sending a message to the rank and file against more defections by using its full force against the rebels.
“There are several internal fault lines within the JDS. Leaders like G T Deve Gowda or Basvraj Horatti are unhappy,” said political analyst L Manjunath.
Citing another reason for the all out attack, Manjunath said, JDS will want the BJP to fall short and depend on it for support after the by-polls.
Deve Gowda has predicted that JDS will play a “decisive role” in who rules Karnataka after December 9, when the by-poll results are declared.
BJP spokesperson S Prakash dismissed opposition strategy and said the party was confident of winning all the 15 by-poll seats.
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