Karnataka minister GT Deve Gowda on Wednesday sparked a row with the statement that his party workers in Mysuru and other parts of Karnataka might have voted for the BJP. Gowda is a senior JD(S) leader and minister of higher education in the cabinet of H. D. Kumaraswamy, who is leading a coalition government with Congress as its alliance partner.
Gowda’s statement has not gone down well with the Congress. While Congress and JD(S) are fighting the ongoing Lok Sabha elections together, his statement obviously exposes the unseen discord between the alliance partners.
The success of their alliance in the state prompted both parties to become allies for the general elections. Despite the seat-sharing agreement between the two parties, some members are believed to be disharmonious to each other. JD(S) and Congress were bitter rivals before they joined hands to form the coalition government in the state in May 2018.
“There were some differences between the two parties. Take Udbur for example. People fought there like any panchayat election. Those who were in Congress voted for Congress and those in JD(S) voted for the BJP. Similar things happened elsewhere too,” said Gowda while addressing the reporters in Mysuru.
Gowda added both parties could have fared better had they combined their strength. According to him, it would have helped limit the BJP to five out of 28 seats in Karnataka. He also suggested that the coalition should have been formed much earlier to ease the coordination and boost the results.
Gowda’s statement has triggered a strong reaction from the Congress with the state president Dinesh Gundu Rao expressing shock. Rao said this statement was not good for the coalition government. “I am not able to figure out how he (Gowda) had worked during the election because he has given contradictory statements. Such statements are not good for the coalition government,” Rao said.
“Such things would happen because those given responsibilities did not work sincerely. There seems to be lack of sincerity,” Rao added. He also rubbished Gowda’s statement about the delay in formalizing the alliance.
“We formed the coalition much earlier. There was no delay in forming the coalition. It was announced much earlier that Mysuru will be given to Congress as per the seat sharing agreement. “I don’t know in which context Gowda spoke,” Rao added.
Expressing its delight over Gowda’s remark, BJP said not only the JD(S) workers but Congress leaders and workers too have voted in favor of the saffron party. “GT Deve Gowda’s statement is the voice of the people. It is the opinion of the workers of both the political parties,” said BJP MLA and former deputy chief minister R Ashok said. Adding, “Not just JD(S) but Congress leaders and workers voted for BJP, especially in favor of Sumalatha Ambareesh in Mandya.”
To a question on the possibility of disintegration of the coalition government, Ashok asserted that his party is not making any efforts. However, he indicated some “unseen hands” from within the coalition are working to ensure the same. “Those ‘unseen hands’ are in the party with a symbol of ‘hand’. We (BJP) will not make any efforts to topple the government. Let them do it (toppling the government),” he added.
Gowda countered Ashok’s controversial remark by stating he was only referring to Udbur in Mysuru Lok Sabha constituency and not everywhere and expressed confidence about C H Vijay Shankar’s victory in Mysuru.
Congress and JD(S) candidates have pitted against each other, defying the orders from the high command making the case of ‘infighting’ between coalition members evident.
Nikhil Kumaraswamy, son of Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and grandson of former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda contested in Mandya. However, some Congress and JD(S) workers are reported to have favored independent candidate Sumalatha, actress and widow of popular Kannada film actor-turned-politician, Ambareesh.
Sumalatha was backed by the BJP, which did not field its candidate in the constituency. Prajwal Revanna, son of PWD minister H D Revanna and grandson of Deve Gowda faced a similar challenge in Hassan. He was pitted against A Manju of BJP.
If sources are to believe, Deve Gowda also faced a similar rebellion of Congress workers in Tumakuru. Agitated by the behavior of Congress workers, JD(S) workers resorted to identical behavior by refusing to work for Congress party in Mysuru. These disgruntled workers had threated to vote for BJP instead of Vijay Shankar in the presence of GT Deve Gowda.
SM Krishna, senior BJP leader, and erstwhile Karnataka chief minister hinted at a major change in the pipeline within the state post the Lok Sabha elections.
Speculation about infighting and dissolution of the JD(S)-Congress state government has been a constant since Kumaraswamy took charge last year. We had also reported earlier about the insecurity of this government when rumors about Kumaraswamy’s brother and PWD minister HD Revanna’s meeting with BJP senior leadership in Bengaluru had surfaced.