“If we lose (Congress-JD(S)), will the coalition government last?” These were the words spoken by former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah while addressing party workers in Mysuru on Sunday.
For nearly 13 years, Siddaramaiah has remained a staunch opponent of the JD(S) and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda. However, he has now had to shed his long-standing rivalry with the JD(S) first family in order to ensure that the Congress candidate CH Vijayshankar wins the Lok Sabha polls from the Mysuru-Kodagu segment.
“The coalition government should last for five years. But the question is – will the coalition survive if we lose? I am not a minister. I was the CM and my time is coming to an end. Now Kumaraswamy is the Chief Minister. GT Deve Gowda, Sa Ra Mahesh, CS Puttaraju (JD(S) leaders) are all ministers now. The goal is to ensure that BJP does not win and we must work towards it,” Siddaramaiah said.
Siddaramaiah also said that “a few people” had worked against him during the Assembly Elections to ensure that he does not become Chief Minister for a second term. He also said that his interest in electoral politics is waning and that he would not want to contest any more elections.
“In the last election (referring to 2018 Assembly polls) a few people had worked against me to ensure I do not become CM again. My defeat in Chamundeshwari is a reminder of who was slated to become the Chief Minister. I have lost interest in electoral politics and I will not contest elections in the future. Rahul Gandhi must become the Prime Minister and I will work to ensure that happens. Hence, the coalition’s candidate must win in Mysuru,” Siddaramaiah told Congress party workers.
Siddaramaiah, however, stated on Monday that he would not contest from the Chamundeshwari segment again, but may think about contesting from another segment if the party high command wants him to.
During the 2018 Assembly Elections, the contest was between the Congress and JD(S) across various segments in the Old Mysuru region in Karnataka. One of the most crucial battles was between the then Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his mentee-turned-foe GT Devegowda of the JD(S) in the Chamundeshwari segment. GT Devegowda had emerged victorious and this was a bitter experience for Siddaramaiah as he had suffered defeat in his stronghold.
With the Congress and JD(S) coming together to form a coalition, Siddaramaiah is now being forced to shake hands with his longstanding rivals – JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda and Chamundeshwari MLA GT Devegowda in order to ensure that the Congress candidate for Mysuru, CH Vijayshankar wins.
Sources in the Congress party say that the top state-level leaders fear defection of MLAs to the BJP if the coalition’s candidates suffer defeat in key constituencies.
“If the BJP wins in Old Mysuru region, it will be a blow to top Congress leaders. There are rumblings among certain Congress MLAs that it would be risky to continue with the coalition if the party does not win enough seats. Everyone is worried. A lot of party workers rebelled and now the leaders have realized what impact it could have. Just a week before polls, they ran into damage control. Now they are trying to ensure that their candidates win,” the source added.