Bengaluru North or Tumakuru? Deve Gowda weighs options ahead of 2019 battle

Sources say that former PM and JD(S) supremo Deve Gowda is also considering asking one of his grandsons to step aside, either in Mandya or Hassan.
Bengaluru North or Tumakuru? Deve Gowda weighs options ahead of 2019 battle
Bengaluru North or Tumakuru? Deve Gowda weighs options ahead of 2019 battle
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Giving in to pressure from his grandson Prajwal Revanna, former Prime Minister and JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda, a five-time MP from Hassan, gave up his bastion. With Prajwal gearing up to file his nomination from the Hassan segment this time around, the party supremo is now mulling over his decision and more importantly, whether he should contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections at all.

The JD(S) is contesting elections from eight segments and although the 86-year-old veteran has several options at his disposal, the risk factors too are huge.

Party insiders say that Deve Gowda is even considering removing his grandson’s nomination from Hassan and contesting from the segment himself. “There is a lot of opposition for Prajwal’s nomination and there were discussions on whether he should ask Prajwal to step away and contest from Hassan himself,” a source said.

Another option Deve Gowda is looking into is to contest from Mandya, especially since Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil Gowda is facing the heat from local Congress leaders and party workers. Sources say that the “Go Back Nikhil” campaign, which has gained momentum, has reduced Nikhil’s confidence. “Another option he is considering is to revoke Nikhil’s nomination from Mandya and contest there himself,” the source said.

This after Sumalatha, actor and wife of late Congress leader Ambareesh, who was the MP from Mandya, is considering taking the political plunge. Party insiders say that Deve Gowda is waiting for Sumalatha to announce her decision on contesting from Mandya on Monday before taking a call on which segment he should contest from. “Depending on the odds, he will decide. But he has also said that not contesting elections is also an option he is considering. If he loses now, it would bring down the morale of the JD(S) and the coalition. A lot depends on his decision now,” the JD(S) source added.

In January this year, when Deve Gowda announced that he would relinquish his seat in Hassan to Prajwal, he was mulling over contesting from Mandya. Soon pressure began mounting on offering Nikhil a ticket and Deve Gowda handed over Mandya as well.

Deve Gowda then wanted to contest from Mysuru-Kodagu. But his arch rival and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah refused to part with his home constituency and the JD(S) was not offered the Mysuru ticket.

The JD(S) was left with Bengaluru North and Tumakuru constituencies and in both segments the fight is a risky one for the former Prime Minister.

Bengaluru North has a considerable population of people from the Muslim and Christian communities and also has a huge population of Vokkaligas. During the 2018 Assembly Elections, the eight constituencies that fall under Bengaluru North were won by the Congress and JD(S). Although this seems like a logical choice for Deve Gowda, the rebellion in the Congress is brewing trouble for the octogenarian.

“ST Somashekar, M Krishnappa and Priya Krishna, who are Siddaramaiah loyalists are refusing to support Deve Gowda. In addition, leaders like Byrathi Suresh are also distancing themselves from campaigning for Deve Gowda. This would make contesting a risky business,” a Congress source said.

On the other hand, Deputy Chief Minister Dr G Parameshwara is unhappy about the high command giving away Tumakuru to the JD(S). “Parameshwara’s loyalists are not keen on supporting the JD(S) in Tumakuru as this would bring down the Congress’ popularity in the region,” the source said.

With Deve Gowda facing so many dilemmas, sources in the JD(S) say that he is also mulling over contesting from both Tumakuru and Bengaluru North segments to avoid any risk.

“If he loses in Bengaluru North, he has a slightly higher chance of winning in Tumakuru. This would be the best option for him now. If he takes away Mandya or Hassan, then there would be a huge family feud and his own family members will go out of their way to sabotage his chances,” the JD(S) source said.

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