The seat sharing finalised between alliance partners Congress and JD(S) for the Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka has come as a surprise not only to several leaders within the coalition, but also its rival – the BJP. Allotting seats such as those in the coastal regional and Tumakuru have left several leaders and party workers. On Thursday, Yeshwanthpur Congress MLA ST Somashekar told the media that Deputy Chief Minister Dr G Parameshwara was sorely disappointed when the party gave away the Tumakuru segment to the JD(S).
“I spoke to Parameshwara over the phone and he told me that he did not know why the party leaders targeted him. He said he was disappointed by Siddaramaiah’s decision in retaining the Mysuru-Kodagu segment but giving away Tumakuru, which is his (Parameshwara’s) home turf. He also told me that the party leaders do not value his opinions,” ST Somashekar said.
Congress insiders say that things may change after Rahul Gandhi’s meeting with Deve Gowda on Friday. Party insiders say after Deve Gowda’s ultimatum of not contesting polls if he is not offered the Mysuru-Kodagu district has given rise to doubts about the seats allotted to the JD(S). JD(S) has been allotted eight out of the 28 seats in the state as part of the poll pact. The constituencies are Uttara Kannada, Udupi-Chikamagaluru, Hassan, Mandya, Shivamogga, Tumakuru, Vijayapura and Bangalore North.
“Everyone is surprised. But the reason why Parameshwara expressed his disappointment is because he is hoping Rahul Gandhi will trade Tumakuru with Mysuru-Kodagu,” a Congress source said.
Speaking to TNM, MA Gafoor, Congress leader from Udupi said that no one expected the party to offer the tickets in the coastal region to JD(S). “Nobody expected this decision. We have grassroot level organisations. We have presence in Gram Panchayats, Zilla Panchayats, Municipality, Town Panchayats, and more importantly, there is a history of the Congress fighting from Udupi and Chikkamagaluru. Whether it is the fishermen community, farmer community, women or the youth, the areca nut farmers of Chikkamagaluru, the people fighting for railway network, the Congress has stood with them and fought for their rights. Whether the Congress wins or loses, it is a different issue but the party has come through this with the people. People have in turn expressed confidence in Congress,” he said.
He also stated that leaders in Udupi have written to KPCC, AICC General Secretary KC Venugopal, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda, asking for this decision to be reversed and instead offer the ticket to a Congress candidate.
“If the decision does not change and JD(S) does field the candidate from Udupi, we will tell our karyakartas to work with the party to keep the discipline of the party but we want our feelings to be known and the party should understand our feelings too. We have to let them know about this because we are answerable to our karyakartas,” he added.
Party insiders say that JD(S) has a small presence in two districts in Udupi “In the two districts, JD(S) has significance. That is where Bhojaraj is well known. But everywhere else, they have negligible presence. Congress workers will have to do all the work to put up a fight,” a Congress leader said.
BJP leaders also say that they were shocked at the coalition's decision as they had been campaigning against the Congress leaders all along. "We did not expect it to happen. We have to see whether the decision will be revoked and even if JD(S) will field candidates, we have to see who it is in order to assess whether there is any actual threat," a BJP source said.