A controversial candidate, a group of saboteurs and the need to win the Lok Sabha bye-poll in Mandya, has put the JD(S) campaign in a quandary. The Congress-JD(S) coalition had decided to field the JD(S) leader and educationist LR Shivarame Gowda from Mandya as a part of the power-sharing pact. The Congress has also promised to support Shivarame Gowda and campaign for him in the region.
However, local Congress leaders, who had aspired for a ticket in Mandya have turned against Shivarame Gowda and have initiated a silent sabotage campaign against him, party insiders say.
With the bye-election slated for November 3, several skeletons in Shivarame Gowdaâ€™s closet have come tumbling out. â€śThatâ€™s why his previous criminal history has been brought to the fore. Congress leader Cheluvarayaswamy has also held talks with some BJP leaders and are mulling over various strategies to defeat Shivarame Gowda. Cheluvarayaswamy has proposed that the BJP support Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha candidate Sunita Puttanaiah in order to split the Congressâ€™ votes from going to Shivarame Gowda,â€ť a Congress source said.
On Sunday several photos of former Prime Minister and JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda, which were taken in 1993 went viral on social media. The pictures were of Deve Gowda, holding up a photo of deceased lawyer-journalist Kenchenahalli Gangadhara Murthy, with a black cloth tied to his mouth at a protest rally in Nagamanagala. In September 23, 1992, Lankesh Patrikeâ€™s reporter- Gangadhara Murthy, was murdered, after being attacked by bike-borne men.
Photo of HD Deve Gowda at the rally in Nagamangala
Deve Gowda was protesting against LR Shivarame Gowda, one of the suspects in Gangadharaâ€™s murder. Now he is the partyâ€™s candidate for the Mandya Lok Sabha seats.
The photos were posted by convener MB Naganna Gowda, a member of the Cauvery Kanive Raitha Horata.
The Congress, Janata Dal (as it was called then) and the BJP leaders along with various organisations, activists and locals had held a huge rally in Nagamangala, protesting Gangadharaâ€™s brutal murder. Deve Gowda, who was a part of the protest, had demanded the arrest of Nagamangalaâ€™s independent MLA LR Shivarame Gowda who was allegedly involved in the murder along with 12 others.
Shivarame Gowda was arrested by the then Corps of Detectives but the court had acquitted him. Three others including two persons employed by Shivarame Gowda were given a life sentence.
However, in 1994, when Shivarame Gowda won a seat in the Assembly Election once again as an independent, Deve Gowda had welcomed him into the party.
â€śThe reason why this has come to the fore now is because several Congress leaders believe that their candidate should have contested the Mandya elections. Another major reason is that in 2014, the then Congress leader CS Puttaraju, who defected to JD(S) had actively been involved in sabotaging Ramyaâ€™s reputation in Mandya, resulting in a loss for the Congress. Mandya has been a battleground for Congress and JD(S). The members of both parties are sworn enemies in this region. Now they are out to sabotage Shivarame Gowdaâ€™s reputation to get back at JD(S). Years of mistrust and hatred cannot be erased and some Congress leaders are using local cadre and their grassroots support to ensure Gowdaâ€™s defeat,â€ť the Congress source added.
However, JD(S) leaders disagreed with rumours of a sabotage campaign and stated that the parties are united and will reflect the same once the votes have been counted.
Speaking at a rally in Mandya on Tuesday, Pandavapura MLA CS Puttaraju said that the BJP was trying to destroy the unity of the partiesâ€™ cadre by launching a smear campaign, especially since the BJP has no voter base in Mandya.
â€śThe BJP can keep saying that the unity amongst members of the Congress and JD(S) is just a sham. I will say one thing. The BJP is wrong and this is true since we all know who will win. Caste politics does not matter anymore. The people will come together to defeat BJP in this election,â€ť CS Puttaraju added.