Karnataka elections 2018: Vokkaliga ire leads to fall of Congress in Old Mysuru
The Janata Dal (Secular) emerged as the biggest winner on Tuesday in the Vokkaliga-dominated Old Mysuru area, where it won 29 of the 59 seats and where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also managed to make inroads at the cost of the ruling Congress because of an acute farm crisis in the region.
During assembly elections in the past, there had been a straight fight in the region between the Congress and the JD(S). But Tuesday’s poll results showed that the gains made by the BJP were largely at the expense of the Congress, while the JD(S) managed to not only consolidate but also increase its tally.
The rally behind the JD(S) was nowhere more starkly in view than in the Chamundeshwari seat in Mysuru district, where chief minister Siddramaiah raised the stakes after shifting from Varuna, a constituency he left for his son Yathindra, who went on to win.
Siddaramaiah was up against a former aide GT Deve Gowda, whom he had defeated by just 250 votes in 2006, when Siddaramaiah switched to the Congress from the JD(S). On Tuesday, Siddaramaiah lost by a margin of around 36,000 votes.
The JD(S) had banked on the consolidation of Vokkaliga votes and it was for this reason that the party’s chief ministerial aspirant HD Kumaraswamy contested from two seats in the region — his traditional stronghold Ramanagara and the neighbouring Channapatna, where his wife Anita had been defeated in 2013 by the BJP’s Vokkaliga leader CP Yogeshwar, a serial party hopper.
The Congress party’s jibe that the JD(S) was actually the Janata Dal (Sangh Parivar) — referring to it as the BJP’s ‘B team’ — and outgoing chief minister Siddaramaiah’s comments against his former mentor and JD(S) patriarch HD Deve Gowda did not go down well by the electorate. Added to this was anger among JD(S) workers at the Congress poaching its MLAs, seven of whom had switched in April after voting against the party whip in the Rajya Sabha elections.
The JD(S) swept Mandya, winning all seven seats in a district where the rebel Congress leader MH Ambareesh refused to contest. Ambareesh, who met Kumaraswamy last week, was angry with Siddaramaiah for having dropped him from the state Cabinet in a reshuffle in 2016.
In Holenarsipura, where Deve Gowda’s elder son HD Revanna went head-to-head with the Congress candidate B Manjegowda, perceptible Dalit anger against Vokkaliga dominance did not matter as much as Siddaramaiah had hoped it would. Manjegowda, a Dasa Vokkaligam expected to split the community’s votes, also lost by around 42,000 votes.
What played a part in the reversal was alleged leaked phone conversation between Siddaramaiah and Manjegowda, where the former was purportedly heard telling Manjegowda to bring Deve Gowda’s hold over the region to an end.
The Congress decision to bet on Darshan, the son of senior farmer leader KS Puttanaiah, who died of a heart attack earlier this year, in the Melukote seat, came a cropper as well.
Darshan, who was contesting on a Swaraj India ticket, lost to CS Puttaraju of the JD(S) by 23,000 votes.
In the 12 seats in the area reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs), the Congress could win only three, while it won back the one seat reserved for Scheduled Tribes (STs).
In contrast, the JD(S) decision to ally with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) paid off. Mayawati’s party managed to wrest the Kollegal seat from the Congress, while the JD(S) won eight of the reserved seats, ensuring in the process the defeat of public works minister HC Mahadevappa, and making a dent in Siddaramaiah’s plans of an AHINDA (a Kannada acronym for minority communities, backward classes and Dalits) coalition against the dominant Vokkaligas.
The BJP’s victory in Nanjangud, a seat the Congress had won in a by-election last year after it fielded a former JD(S) leader against V Srinivasa Prasad, who moved to the BJP, further eroded the party’s claim over Dalit support.
The Congress, however, did manage to ensure a victory for its state president G Parameshwara, who had lost in 2013 to the JD(S) candidate.