It’s disillusionment for the Congress cadre everywhere. The grand old party has been in a fix in the south of Karnataka ever since it formed a coalition with its arch rival – the JD(S).
While the BJP has managed to break into the bastions of the Congress in north Karnataka and the coastal districts, several key districts still remain elusive.
With bye-polls slated to be held in five constituencies – two Assembly and three Lok Sabha, the BJP has geared up commendably to break into the impenetrable fortresses of the Congress and the JD(S).
Karnataka CM HD Kumarawamy has held the Ramanagara assembly seat since 2004 when he first contested elections from there. With his resignation as the MLA of Ramanagara, his wife Anita Kumaraswamy is now contesting the seat. The JD(S) has fielded LR Shivarame Gowda for the Mandya Lok Sabha seat.
As the Congress has decided not to field candidates and support Anita Kumaraswamy and Shivarame Gowda instead, several local party leaders are unhappy. So much so that Congress leader L Chandrashekhar defected to the BJP and is contesting against Anita Kumaraswamy at Ramanagara.
Although Karnataka Water Resource Minister DK Shivakumar and his brother DK Suresh, MP from Bengaluru Rural, have put their weight behind Anita Kumaraswamy, the party’s lower-rung workers are unhappy about joining hands with the JD(S).
“In Ramanagara and most of the Old Mysore districts, Congress and JD(S) workers are arch rivals. The BJP has never made inroads into this region because it has been a bastion of these two parties. Chandrashekar is the son of Congress MLC CM Lingappa and is strong in the region. The problem is that although Kumaraswamy swept the votes, it cannot be said that Anita would be given the same treatment. People will say ‘I will vote for Kumaraswamy’ but it is uncertain whether it will translate into votes because of Chandrashekar,” a JD(S) leader said.
Anita Kumaraswamy had lost the assembly bye-election in Channapatna in 2012. However, when HD Kumaraswamy contested from Channapatna in 2018, he won by a large margin.
Congress insiders say that DK Suresh has helped quell the rebellion, but only for a small period of time. “There are still many workers who are unhappy with the Congress’ decision. Chandrashekar has taken this as an excuse. He has taken up the issue of dynastic politics and announced that just like the JD(S) even the Congress is a party of chameleons. That the Congress changed its tune of being a rival of the JD(S). On the other hand, going by the caste calculation, Anita is likely to win by a comfortable margin,” a Congress leader said.
Infighting in Ballari
The situation is also grim in Ballari, where the Congress is fielding VS Ugrappa, a senior legislator in the legislative council. Party workers have resorted to infighting, this time claiming that the leaders have not paid for their work. On Sunday, several of the party’s cadre barged into Minister of Urban Development and Housing UT Khader’s hotel room in Ballari and created a ruckus.
Tasked with campaigning in Ballari, the minister was put up at a hotel in the city.
“The block Congress leaders complained that the funds meant for the campaign were not reaching the booths. The leaders also began shouting about extracting revenge against each other inside Khader’s hotel room. These leaders are loyal to various MLAs in Ballari. While some of them are supporters of Anand Singh, a few others are supporters of B Nagendra. Both camps have been unhappy about the party’s decision to field VS Ugrappa, who is considered an outsider,” the Congress source said.