One of the biggest poll battles this election season was in Chamundeshwari, which saw JD(S) veteran GT Devegowda emerge as the giant slayer after defeating incumbent Chief Minister of Karnataka, Siddaramaiah by a margin of over 30,000 votes.
GT Devegowda swept the seat winning 1,00,308 votes as opposed to Siddaramaiah who managed only 65,899 votes.
Pre-poll surveys had predicted that Siddaramaiah would lose if he contested from Chamundeshwari. The surveys commissioned by the Congress and the state intelligence too said the same.
Just like the surveys predicted, Siddaramaiah suffered a massive defeat in his hometown – Mysuru, a district he called his bastion.
A veteran politician, GT Devegowda and Siddaramaiah were once close friends but are now sworn enemies. The “other Devegowda” as he is known, GT Devegowda is a native of Gungaralu Chatra village, and has been a JD(S) strongman in Mysuru district for decades.
Once a close associate of Siddaramaiah, Devegowda is a former minister and a three-time MLA from Hunsur and Chamundeshwari. He started his political career as Secretary of the Agricultural Primary Co-operative Society in the 1970s.
“Back then, anyone who held positions in the co-operative was considered powerful in Mysuru. Although I did not realise it back then, it was a stepping stone for my career," GT Devegowda had told TNM.
Hailing from the farming community, GT Devegowda was first seen in the political sphere when he supported the then Congress candidate Kempere Gowda in the 1978 polls.
Back then, the battle was between the Congress and the Congress (I). Kempere Gowda had lost the polls to the Indira Congress candidate Jayadevaraj Urs.
Soon, GT Devegowda quit the Congress and joined the Janata Party. It was during the 1983 assembly elections that he met Siddaramaiah. Their friendship lasted for over two decades. GT Devegowda then contested assembly elections and won from Hunsur in 2004. He, however, lost the parliamentary elections to Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar by a narrow margin in the same year.
After falling out with Siddaramaiah, Devegowda joined the BJP in 2007. However, he shifted to the JD(S) in 2013 and won the Chamundeshwari seat.
“GT Devegowda has come to every house. When women are in labour, his people are there to help. When there is need for money, he is ready to loan it to us. He was very helpful during the drought,” says Jayesh, a resident of Halekesare.
Since the delimitation in 2004, Siddaramaiah’s primary voter base was shifted to Varuna constituency. And Siddaramaiah had contested subsequent elections, in 2008 and 2013, from Varuna. This time around, he vacated the Varuna seat for his son Dr Yathindra Siddaramaiah and decided to contest from Chamundeshwari and Badami instead.
The Chamundeshwari seat has never been a bastion of the BJP and the power has always fluctuated between the Congress and JD(S).
Siddaramaiah first contested and won as an independent candidate from Chamundeshwari in the state Assembly elections of 1983. In the 1985 polls, Siddaramaiah contested from Chamundeshwari on a Janata New Party ticket. He lost the subsequent election in 1989. He then won again in 1994 from a Janata Party ticket.
By 1999, the Janata Dal had split and JD(S) was formed. Siddaramaiah lost the polls that year but won the 2004 elections.
The 2004 Assembly elections had resulted in a Hung Assembly in Karnataka and the Congress and JD(S) had formed an alliance with Dharam Singh as the CM and Siddaramaiah became the Deputy Chief Minister then.
Siddaramaiah was unhappy with JD(S) supremo Deve Gowda as he had been promised the Chief Ministership if the party came to power. Thus, began the silent war between two major leaders of the state.
This time around as well, the JD(S) had said that Siddaramaiah had abandoned the people of Chamundeshwari. One, who vacated the constituency after decades of building up his political career here.
However, this time around, the people of Chamundeshwari were not kind to Siddaramaiah, leading to the massive defeat one of the tallest leaders in the state.