Bengaluru: Former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) supremo H.D.Deve Gowda will contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls from Tumakuru (Tumkur), about 70 kilometres from Bengaluru, the regional party announced on Saturday.

However, Gowda's decision to contest the polls from Tumakuru stirred up the hornet's nest, with the sitting Congress member of parliament from the seat saying he will also file his nomination. This added to the simmering tension between the coalition partners ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, scheduled to commence from the second week of April.

Though the Congress tried to retain all 10 seats, the JD(S) managed to bag Tumakuru after it was unable to get Mysuru-Kodagu as part of its pre-poll agreement, giving room for more rebellion within the national party.

"I will file nominations as the Congress candidate on Monday," said S.P. Muddahanumegowda, the incumbent Congress MP. He would decide his next course of action if the party did not back him on his decision, he added.

Muddahanumegowda’s statements were indicative of the larger problem involving Deve Gowda, who had been scouting for a safe seat after he relinquished Hassan for his 28-year-old grandson.

The developments are not auguring well for the parties and its warring workers, who are refusing to work with each other.

A large section of Congress workers have already made their displeasure public in Hassan and Mandya from where Gowda’s two grandsons — Prajwal Revanna and Nikhil Kumaraswamy— will be making their electoral debut.

A. Manju, former minister and Congress leader, has already switched sides and has been named as the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) candidate in Hassan. Several Congress workers and disgruntled JD(S) workers in the farmer heartland of Mandya have decided to back actor-turned-politician Sumalatha Amarnath or Sumalatha Ambareesh’s candidature, making things harder for Nikhil, the son of Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.

The BJP on Saturday announced it will support Sumalatha's candidature in Mandya.

“Our senior leaders will sit and talk to him and assuage his feelings and am confident that he will withdraw," Congress' working president Eshwar Khandre said.

He admitted there was some feeling of discord among workers, but added that the party will manage to convince them to work together. “This feeling will come down gradually."

Rising differences between the coalition partners and its workers are benefiting the BJP, which has been patiently waiting for such opportunities to help it improve its own footprint in south Karnataka, where it has little or no presence.

Deve Gowda’s decision not to contest from Bengaluru North is also giving a breather to union minister and BJP leader D.V. Sadananda Gowda, who has close ties with the JD(S) patriarch. The coalition had a chance to break BJP’s grip over the three seats in urban Bengaluru if Deve Gowda had decided to contest from the north seat.

Deve Gowda is expected to file his nominations on Monday.

The BJP believes it has a chance to make inroads into the Vokkaliga belt as it stands to benefit from the infighting between the Congress and JD(S). The distrust betwèen the two parties and constantly warring workers helped the BJP get over 2.4 lakh votes in the November by-polls in the sugarcane-growing district, its highest total ever.

The BJP also announced the candidature of S.Muniswamy from Kolar to take on Congress heavyweight, K.H.Muniyappa. But the party is yet to announce its decision on the candidate in Bengaluru South, a BJP bastion and constituency of the late Ananth Kumar. Though the party convinced Kumar's wife, Tejaswini Ananth Kumar, it is yet to officially name her as the candidate from the seat. 

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