A local Congress leader from Mandya district, in Karnataka, on Tuesday publicly aired his views on the displeasure of party workers who he claimed were unwilling to campaign for the Janata Dal (Secular) candidate in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Though the JD(S) and Congress have joined hands in Karnataka to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming general elections, the statements by local leaders baring the disconnect between state level alliances and ground level realities.
"Our own workers are warning us that you will get beaten up if you support anyone from outside the district," Prasanna, a local leader from Nagamangala Taluk of the Congress said on Tuesday. Prasanna’s apparent reference was towards Nikhil Kumaraswamy, the son of chief minister H.D.Kumaraswamy who has been named as the candidate from the farmer heartland of Mandya, about 95 km from Bengaluru.
Though the JD(S) and Congress have allied at the state level, its workers who have fought bloody and violent battles for decades in parts of south Karnataka can barely see eye-to-eye and are revolting at the thought of campaigning together.
The friction between the workers of the coalition partners, at least for the moment, likely to help Sumalatha Ambareesh, wife of Kannada yesteryears actor H.Ambareesh, who died last year. Sumalatha has approached the Congress for a ticket to contest from the seat, but the party has already ceded Mandya to the JD(S) as part of the seat sharing agreement.
Sumalatha, who now intends to contest as an independent, has become the natural choice for dissident voters from within the coalition.
The candidature of Nikhil and Prajwal Revanna, son of cabinet minister, H.D.Revanna was confirmed from party bastions of Mandya and Hassan, respectively, to make it smooth sailing for the third generation of politicians from the household of former prime minister H.D.Deve Gowda.
Senior JD(S) leaders brushed off Prasanna’s comments as ‘individual views’.
The push back from the Congress aside, even senior leaders from the JD(S) tacitly expressing their reservations in fielding Nikhil, who they consider as an “outsider" and has been paradropped by the senior leadership and overlooking local interests.
“Sumalatha is standing on the base of her husband’s achievements while Nikhil is being fielded on the achievements of the grandfather and father," a JD(S) minister said, requesting not to be named.
Though JD(S) has won all eight assembly segments under Mandya parliamentary seat, its challenges from within as well as its coalition partner are adding to Nikhil’s troubles. The presence of JD(S) dissidents in the district, who shifted to the Congress before the May assembly elections, not helping the situation either. The BJP stands to gain from the infighting in the region where it has little or no presence at all.