At a time when the JD(S)-Congress alliance is experiencing strains in Karnataka, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah appealed to party workers in Mandya and Mysuru to set aside their differences and work together to help the coalition candidates win in the Lok Sabha elections.
With less than a week to go for the elections, a joint rally was held in Malavalli in Mandya and Nagamangala in Mysuru on Friday after multiple reports of discord between JD(S) and Congress workers emerged. The two parties are traditional rivals in the region but this time around, they are contesting the polls jointly after signing a pre-poll alliance.
"The coalition government in the state was put together to defeat communal forces. There may have been conflicts at the local level but we must forget them and try and help Vijayashankar and Dhruvanarayana win in Mysuru and Chamarajanagar," Deve Gowda said, speaking on the occasion.
His words were echoed by Siddaramaiah, who once considered Deve Gowda as his political mentor before he was expelled from the JD(S). "To defeat the BJP, the independent candidate should be defeated," he said, referring to actor Sumalatha Ambareesh who is contesting as an independent from Mandya.
There has also been a strain in the alliance after Congress workers were seen attending campaign rallies of late actor Ambareeshâ€™s wife, Sumalatha, who is contesting as an independent candidate against HD Kumaraswamy's son, Nikhil. Ambareesh was a popular Congress leader and also served as Minister of Housing during Siddaramaiahâ€™s tenure.
"Many Congress workers are openly supporting Sumalatha and not Nikhil Kumaraswamy. Even as the election draws closer and several high command leaders have asked them to support Nikhil, they have refused to do so. They wanted Sumalatha to get the Congress ticket and cannot accept another grandson of Deve Gowda contesting from here," a Congress worker from Mandya says.
Congress recently suspended seven block presidents for indulging in anti-party activities and is struggling to quell the dissidence from its party members. Unlike in Tumakuru, where Congress leaders managed to convince incumbent MP Muddahanumegowda to hand over the seat to Deve Gowda, the party is facing a tough task in pacifying workers in Mandya.
MLAs N Cheluvarayaswamy and PM Narendraswamy and few other Congress leaders who are supporting Sumalatha were missing at Siddaramaiah and Deve Gowdaâ€™s joint rally. The joint rally comes a day before Congress President Rahul Gandhi's visit to Mandya to campaign for Nikhil.