With voting underway for the Karnataka bye-polls, dissent erupted in the Congress party in Mandya district and several party workers have decided not to vote for the coalition’s candidate, JD(S) leader LR Shivarame Gowda.
The Kurubara Sangha members in Mandya’s KR Pete announced that they would not vote for Shivarame Gowda. However, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah intervened and convinced the party workers to “bear with the party’s decision just one time”.
Speaking to TNM, President of the Kurubara Sangha in KR Pete said, “Yes, we had decided to boycott the polls. A few days ago, we (members of the Kurubara Sangha) had requested MLA SR Mahesh to develop the villages in our taluk. No one cares about development in the region and they come to us for votes. Yes, we had boycotted voting for some time but our leader Siddaramaiah called me and asked me to withdraw the protest, stating that he would ensure our demands are met. I respect him and we all do, so we withdrew the protest now.”
Meanwhile, several Congress party workers, who felt sidelined as a Congress candidate was not chosen to contest the polls, have decided to vote NOTA or vote for the BJP.
“No one likes Shivarame Gowda. He has not won elections since 2009 when he contested with a BJP ticket. Shivarame Gowda’s party-hopping nature has resulted in the party workers losing trust in him as a candidate. He does not treat Congress party workers with respect. Many of our workers feel that the candidates they had supported were cheated of a chance to contest. Shivarame Gowda is likely to win but he is not the popular choice at all,” said Gunashekar, a Congress party worker.
Sources in the Congress say that the party workers in Nagamangala, who are also supporters of former MLA Cheluvarayaswamy have decided vote against Shivarame Gowda.
“The reason why the coalition was formed was to mobilise votes but this is counterproductive. So many Congress workers are voting for the BJP or voting for an independent or voting NOTA. They are voting for the BJP not because they support the party but because they hate Shivarame Gowda. Also, many workers feel this bye-election is not important,” a Congress source said.
Source say that despite the state-level Congress leaders urging the workers to support Shivarame Gowda, the long-standing rivalry between the Congress and JD(S) in the region, has resulted in a ‘sabotage campaign’ against Shivarame Gowda.
“When party workers are made to feel powerless and when they are forced to vote for the opponent, they tend to rebel and lash out. That is what is playing out in Mandya. BJP will not win in the region but the Congress worker want to give the JD(S) a tough time,” the Congress source said.