The JD(S) candidate for the Mandya constituency, LR Shivarame Gowda, has won the bye-poll by a massive margin. After 17 rounds of counting, Shivarame Gowda was leading by a margin of over 3 lakh votes against BJP’s R Siddaramaiah. Barring Shimoga, the remaining 4 seats which had gone to polls on November 3 has gone to the JD(S)-Congress alliance including the high profile seat of Ballari.
The two-time MLA, who hails from Mandya’s Nagamangala taluk, was nominated as the party’s pick from the constituency over speculations that a candidate would be selected from HD Deve Gowda’s family. Shivarame is a former Chairman of the Bangalore Development Authority, Chairman of the Karnataka Housing Board as well as the Chairman of the Coir Board of Karnataka State.
Shivarame runs several educational institutions in Bengaluru. He is the founder and chairman of the Royal Concorde International School (RCIS) in Kalyan Nagar. His wife Sudha is also a managing trustee member of RCIS, as is his son Chetan.
A few decades ago, Shivarame was booked for the murder of a journalist but was later cleared of charges. On September 23, 1992, Lankesh Patrike reporter Gangadhara Murthy was murdered after being attacked by men riding a bike. Shivarame was named as an accused in the crime, but was subsequently acquitted by the Corps of Detectives. At the time, Deve Gowda had protested against his acquittal at a rally held in Nagamangala. However, after Shivarame won a seat in the 1994 Assembly Election, contesting as an independent Deve Gowda welcomed him to join the party.
Shivarame had also previously joined the BJP and had even contested in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, but was defeated by former minister Cheluvarayaswamy, who was with the JD(S) at the time. He returned to the JD(S) in April 2017.
The JD(S) candidate’s win in the bye-poll has come amidst speculation of a “sabotage campaign” within the JD(S)-Congress coalition. It was earlier reported that several Congress party members were unhappy with a JD(S) candidate being selected to represent the coalition. Kurubara Sangha members from Mandya’s KR Pete had announced their decision not to vote for Shivarame in the first week of November. Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had to step in and convince the party workers not to go with the decision. Several JD(S) leaders dismissed the rumours of such a campaign and stated that the poll results would speak for themselves.