BENGALURU: They managed to withstand the massive Modi wave to retain their seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, but are now struggling to retain hold over their traditional bastions. Heavy attrition from the second rung of their parties and a wobbly alliance have left the stalwarts - Mallikarjun Kharge, KH Muniyappa and M Veerappa Moily and even former PM Deve Gowda - scurrying for votes.
Former Union minister Muniyappa may have won the Kolar Lok Sabha seat seven times on a trot, but it’s no longer a cakewalk for the veteran Congressman.
It’s somewhat similar for the leader of the opposition Congress in the outgoing Lok Sabha, Mallikarjuna Kharge. He who won 11 parliamentary and assembly elections from the district of Kalburgi. But, Kalburgi may no longer be a safe seat for Kharge any more.
As for Veerappa Moily, former Karnataka CM and Union minister of some vintage, Chikkaballapur is proving to be a tough fight. BJP candidate B N Bachegowda is a local Vokkaliga strongman, and he’s giving Moily’s administrative legal acumen, a contest he hardly expected.
The three Congress veterans’ problems may be individually varied, but they are up against one common thread of trouble - internal dissidence and splintering of vote banks, once taken for granted.
Deve Gowda’s woes are manifold. He not only has a not-so-easy contest in Tumkur, but his family prestige is also at stake in Hassan and Mandya, dividing attention and resources. In a rather grand gesture to launch his two grandsons Prajwal Revanna and Nikhil Kumar into parliamentary politics, Gowda Senior vacated his safe seats. As a result, it’s a struggle for the entire family, Deve Gowda included.
In Tumkur, for instance, BJP’s GS Basavaraj, a four-term MP and a grassroot Lingayat leader, is making Gowda feel like a paratrooper. If Gowda has to fight a local talent, Muniyappa is up against a greenhorn, BJP’s S Muniswamy.
But that’s hardly proving to be an advantage. What with the second rung leaders of his own Congress party playing truant and leaving him fighting a lonely battle.
In fact, Muniyappa’s troubles began even before he was given a ticket to contest Kolar. As many as four Congress MLAs opposed his candidature, on the ground that he should make way for the next generation.
They have not exactly fallen in line thereafter.In Kolar, five of six assembly segments are held by Congress and one by JD(S). The internal cold war, therefore, has left Muniyappa hamstrung in a LS constituency which he had won in 2014 with a margin 50,000 votes.
The situation is no different in Kharge’s constituency, Kalburgi. In 2014, he had the local Congress leaders rallying behind him. One of those, is Umesh Jadhav, now the BJP candidate, contesting against him. The BJP’s tactical induction has no doubt, weakened Kharge in his bastion.
Jadhav switching sides was the latest breach in the Kalburgi fortress. Four other local Congress leaders — Mallikaya Guttedar, A B Malaka Reddy, Baburao Chinchansur and Vaijinath Patil — had already jumped to the rival camp.
Now, Kharge is banking heavily on Baburao Chavan, a former BJP local leader, who has joined him to dent his opponent’s Banjara support base.
“This time around, BJP is targeting the constituencies of Congress and JD(S) veterans in a strategic manner. Almost as if to wipe out the strong opposition voice in Parliament,” says political analyst Prof Harish Ramaswamy.
In Chikkaballapur, the other Congress veteran, Moily, is caught in a straight fight with BJP’s Vokkaliga leader Bachegowda. He would have rather had a triangular contest, with JD(S) providing the third angle.
But Moily was stumped by the Congress-JDS alliance, which is helping his opponent to consolidate the caste vote.
Political analyst Mahadev Prakash provides an interesting insight.
“Until 1980s, the Congress had a political monopoly. Thereafter, the Janata Party emerged as the alternative pole, but the top leaders had a mutual understanding, sharing the spoils of power in the assembly and the Lok Sabha,” he said.
Modi will return as PM: BS Yeddyurappa
KOLAR: BJP state president and former CM B S Yeddyurappa on Monday expressed confidence that Narendra Modi would get one more term as Prime Minister with BJP candidates winning 22 seats in the state.
Addressing a public meeting in support of S Munuswamy, the BJP candidate for Kolar, Yeddyurappa said that there was a strong ‘Modi wave’ in rural parts of the state which would pave the way for his victory.
“The programs of the Modi government will help the BJP win a majority across the nation,” he said.
Criticising sitting Member of Parliament KH Muniyappa, he said that the MP had not contributed to the constituency in spite of being a two-term Union Minister.
He asked the gathering to vote in Munuswamy and said that the BJP leader would ensure that the long-pending Ettinahole project would be completed.
“I will take a delegation, including Munuswamy to New Delhi to ensure overall development of the constituency,” he said.
Lashing out at the coalition government in the state, he said that the government, under CM Kumaraswamy, had failed to protect the interests of the common people as well as farmers.