BENGALURU: Last year in October, former PM HD Deve Gowda and his protege-turned-political rival Siddaramaiah addressed their first joint press conference in Bengaluru after a gap of nearly 12 years. It was seen as a big development in state politics.
Talking of their joint fight in the parliamentary polls, both leaders announced their resolve to win over 20 seats and restrict the BJP to single-digit figures.
But if Sunday’s exit polls results are to be believed, the Gowda-Siddaramaiah combination has obviously not worked. The partners face the grim prospect of losing ground even on their home turf.
A poor show would dent Siddaramaiah’s image even as his followers raise the pitch for his return to power. Questions will also be asked about Gowda’s hold over constituencies in the Vokkaliga heartland.
Trust deficit among top leaders and the failure to put in place a strategy to bring leaders and workers together were among major reasons for the possible setback.
Mysore seems to be slipping away from Congress. The loss in his home district would be a big embarrassment for former CM Siddaramaiah. He fought for keeping the Mysore LS seat and the party had to give up Tumkur to the JDS, a constituency it had won in 2014.
Winning Mysore would help Siddaramaiah regain control over the district after his defeat last year in Chamundeshwari with a big margin of over 36,000 votes.
But, his detractors within the party will try to put him in a spot if he fails to deliver Mysore to the Congress. He will also face tough questions from JDS, as the latter did not get full support from the Congress in Mandya and Hassan — both crucial to Gowda and his party. Even in Tumkur, the JDS faced some resistance.
“Although BJP is their common enemy they failed to unite as they had their own constituencies to protect,” said political analyst Prof Harish Ramaswamy. “The coalition at the government level worked, but not at the ground level.”
The party was hoping to repeat its 2018 by-poll performance in the general elections. But seemingly it did not work as top leaders failed to send the right message to their workers who were not in agreement with the decision to fight elections together.
While at the top, the alliance goal was to share the power to keep the BJP away, at the ground level, it meant losing ground to its traditional rival.
That was evident from chairs being hurled at Congress meetings in Hassan, Congress flags at Sumalatha’s rallies in Mandya and resistance from JDS leaders to work for Congress in some constituencies.
Congress too failed to contain differences within its own party units such as Kolar.