Former chief minister S M Krishna’s campaign is expected to boost the morale of Congress workers in the region in the absence of Housing Minister M H Ambareesh.
The veteran leader has the uphill task of keeping all the Congress factions together to ensure the victory of party candidates. Krishna has managed to hold talks with leaders of various factions and get the district Congress revamped by accommodating followers of the Ambareesh. According to sources, he wants all the factions to actively campaign for Ramya.
Congress was plagued with problems in Mandya district after followers of Ambareesh and local MP Ramya locked horns, giving the advantage to JD(S). This forced Krishna, a Vokkaliga leader, to go into damage control mode to mend the strained relationship among its leaders.
He has decided to campaign across Mandya and not just limit himself to Bangalore and other Vokkaliga-dominated pockets. It is learnt that several leaders, including Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and KPCC president G Parameshwara, had advised Ramya to win over partymen, interact with workers and be in touch with block Congress leaders.
Apart from the internal squabbles, Krishna faced the challenge of making his community people toe the Congress line in Mandya and other southern districts as a majority of them were angry with the Chief Minister for his appeasement of Ahinda voters and were turning to the JD(S). In Mandya constituency, the consolidation of Vokkaliga voters in favour of JD(S) has increased. JD(S) managed to poll 4.5 lakh votes in the byelection and is confident of improving it further by getting a lion’s share of the Vokkaliga vote.
According to a Vokkaliga Congress leader, the JD(S) feels that the CM’s remarks against Deve Gowda and H D Kumaraswamy, and the recent programmes like disbursement of government funds to religious institutions and microscopic communities have made the Vokkaligas rethink on supporting Congress.
The dictates of JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda to wrest the seat from Congress in Mandya have also consolidated Vokkaliga votes. “We do not want to repeat past mistakes nor be over-confident. We want to win with a huge margin,” JD(S) leader from Srirangapatna Ravi said.
Though Congress leaders claim that the Ahinda votes that played a crucial role in the previous polls are intact and will come to them, the presence of a BSP candidate, the anti-Congress campaign by Chalavadi Mahasabha office-bearers and the SDPI alliance with JD(S) are expected to cut into dalit and minority votes.