By P.T. Bopanna
Will the outcome of the Mysuru-Kodagu Lok Sabha seat have a bearing on the survival of the JD (S)-Congress coalition government headed by H.D. Kumaraswamy (in picture) in Karnataka?
If the Congress loses the seat, then former chief minister Siddaramaiah, will not think twice before destabilising the Kumaraswamy government. It is a matter of prestige for Siddaramaiah who hails from Mysuru district. Siddaramaiah had insisted during seat-sharing talks with the JD (S) that the Mysuru-Kodagu seat should be given to him. He had also hand-picked the Congress candidate.
The recent claim of the higher education minister G.T. Devegowda of the JD(S) that some of his party workers had voted for the BJP has not gone down well with Siddaramaiah.
The higher education minister, a political adversary of Siddaramaiah, hinted that because the rebel Congress leaders had stayed away from the campaign in Mandya where Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil was contesting, it was inevitable for the JD (S) workers to transfer their votes to the BJP candidate Pratap Simha.
Following the controversial statement by the higher education minister that JD (S) workers had voted for the BJP, Siddaramaiah has complained to the AICC general secretary in-charge of Karnataka, K.C. Venugopal on the failure of the JD (S) to support the Congress candidate C.H. Vijayshankar.
It may be mentioned that there has been a lack of warmth between the coalition partners – Congress and JD (S), who were once political adversaries. Both the parties came together in Karnataka to keep the BJP out of power.
In fact during the campaign, another JD (S) leader and minister in-charge of Kodagu, S.R. Mahesh had warned that if the Congress failed to wholeheartedly support Nikhil in Mandya, then the JD (S) will not hesitate to dump the Congress candidate in Mysuru-Kodagu.
The confusion has come in as a godsend to the BJP candidate in Mysuru-Kodagu Pratap Simha who was all set to lose the seat. The JD (S) members transferred their vote to Simha, a Vokkaliga. In the 2014 election also, Simha had won mainly on account of the fact that the JD (S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda had put up a weak candidate to enable fellow Vokkaliga Simha to emerge successful.
For all the boast of his being a nationalist, Simha is mainly dependent on caste votes. The journalist-turned-politician has been cultivating Vokkaliga leaders from all parties to safeguard his political career. According to a report, Simha had touched the feet of Congress strongman D.K. Shivakumar when he ran into the latter at former chief minister S.M. Krishna’s house.
The election results on May 23 could have far-reaching political implications for Karnataka.