Overconfident Siddaramaiah failed to gauge undercurrent

His eleventh-hour decision to also fight from Badami turned out to be advantageous for JD(S) and cost him badly.

Published: 16th May 2018 05:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2018 05:10 AM   |  A+A-

Outgoing CM Siddaramaiah outside Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru on Tuesday (EPS | Pushkar VP)

By Express News Service

MYSURU: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s plans to end his career in electoral politics on a high note by winning from Chamundeshwari constituency, from where he started his four-decade-long political career, has come crashing down. Though he managed to win from Badami by a thin margin, the defeat in Chamundeshwari by over 36,000 votes will be a sore point of his career as this was his worst-ever defeat.

Siddaramaiah contested elections eight times from Chamundeshwari and had lost in 1989 and 1999. However, he had emotional attachment with the constituency which gave him a political rebirth, voting him by a thin margin of 257 in 2006 by-election. But he burnt bridges with the people of the constituency and grassroots workers after he moved to Varuna constituency in 2008. His eleventh-hour decision to also fight from Badami turned out to be advantageous for JD(S) and cost him badly.

His return to Chamundeshwari after 12 long years and failure to organise the Congress party at booth level weakened the prospects of the Congress against the well-organised JD(S) which had the backing of the dominant Vokkaliga community. At the instance of a few of his close associates, Siddaramaiah took the plunge from Chamundeshwari constituency before analysing the ground realities and gettig a feeling of the pulse in the constituency.

Many felt that he should have started his ground work two years ago and won over all the communities instead of relying on a few veteran leaders who had quit active politics. Instead of advising him to reach out to all sections of society, his coterie gave him a rosy picture of the situation rather than apprising him about the changing political and caste equations in a constituency dominated by Vokkaligas, Lingayats other than dalits and Nayakas, insiders say.

Friends-turned-foes worked against Siddu

Chief minister Siddaramaiah’s political career spanning four decades came to an ignominious end in Chamundeshwari constituency where he lost miserably to G T Devegowda of JD(S).An overconfident Siddaramaiah campaigned hard for about 16 days in Chamundeshwari constituency, but did not take out time to interact with common voters and budding leaders, youths of other communities. This gave space for his arch rival and JD(S) candidate G T Devegowda to reach out all the communities.

His strong AHINDA votes also split on caste lines as the dominant Nayaka community voted against Congress. A majority of the Dalits also voted for JD(S) as many Dalit organisations projected Siddaramaiah as ‘anti-Dalit’, accusing him of getting Parameshwara defeated in the 2013 polls, thereby denying a chance for a Dalit to become Chief Minister.

A few within the Congress also played an active role working against Siddaramaiah. Veteran leader V Srinivasa Prasad, who quit Congress to join BJP and former Congress minister A H Vishwanath also threw their weight behind G T Devegowda to split Congress votes. They also came out aggressively in the open with only appeal - to defeat Siddaramaiah - which drew the attention of the educated Dalits. The unceremonious dropping of senior leader Srinivasa Prasad led to Congress feeling the pinch when Dalit youths stopped Mallikarujna Kharge’s rally in Dalit-dominated localities. Siddaramaiah declaring that Congress will come back to power and that he will the CM also got Dalits to rethink and change their loyalty.

JD(S)-BJP strategy worked

Alarm bells started ringing for Siddaramaiah when JD(S) succeeded in convincing the BJP leadership to field a political novoice and get their votes strategically shifted to JD(S). The Union government’s decision to include Parivara-Talawar community in the Schedule Tribe list also made the majority community go against the Congress.

Devegowda saw that no stone was left unturned and reached out to all sections of society as he knew that cracks in AHINDA votes will only weaken Siddaramaiah. The JD(S) which projected H D Kumaraswamy as Chief Ministerial candidate, saw that Vokkaligas consolidated and brought in H D Kumaraswamy for campaign to ensure that the emotions does not die down.Siddaramaiah’s aggresive attack on Lingayat leader B S Yeddyurappa during the campaign also turned out to be a blessing in disguise for JD(s) as voters went soft on G T Devegowda, who is seen to be very accessible.

G T Devegowda (JD(S)): 1,21,325
Siddaramaiah (Cong): 85,283
Gopal Rao (BJP): 12,064
GTD won by 36,042 votes


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