Wary of BJP-JDS pact, Karnataka Congress leaders visit mutt in Vokkaliga outreach

Congress candidate from Mysuru-Kodagu M Lakshman, a Vokkaliga, also sought blessings, and Siddaramaiah dined with the seer.
Representative image
Representative image

BENGALURU: With a random survey making a startling revelation that over 90 per cent of BJP and JDS workers are happy with their parties’ alliance, and afraid that the combination could turn deadly for the Congress in the Vokkaliga bastion of Old Mysuru, the Grand Old Party (GOP) is going all out to prove it is not averse to the community.

About 18-22 per cent of voters from the community have remained fence-sitters, undecided on their choice of party, when the average for all communities stands at 12 per cent in the state, the survey indicated.

This is why late Thursday evening, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah led Congress candidates, including Kolar’s K V Gowtham, to Adi Chunchanagiri Mutt head Sri Nirmalanandanatha Swami, the religious head of the community, for blessings at the mutt’s Bengaluru facility. Congress candidate from Mysuru-Kodagu M Lakshman, a Vokkaliga, also sought blessings, and Siddaramaiah dined with the seer.

“If 30-35 per cent of Vokkaligas favour Lakshman, the fight will be neck-and-neck, and the result could be unpredictable as Dalits and minorities will rally behind the Congress,” remarked KPCC vice-president G N Nanjunda Swamy.

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Since the situation is likely to be similar in most of the LS seats in the region, a posse of Vokkaliga leaders and candidates, including Bangalore South candidate Sowmya Reddy, Bangalore North candidate Prof Rajeev Gowda and Tumakuru’s SP Muddahanume Gowda visited the swamiji.

“The Congress gave eight tickets (the highest) to community leaders, including Vokkaligas, Bunts and Reddy,” remarked Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda. He indicated that the Congress wants to capture the votes of these communities united under one umbrella as Vokkaligas or Gowdas. “By and large, the community has voted democratically for all parties in the recent past. During the assembly elections, a considerable section favoured the Congress because of DCM DK Shivakumar,’’ remarked a Congress leader.

But this time, the Congress leadership is wary of former CM H D Kumaraswamy, son of former PM H D Deve Gowda, the community’s supreme leader, contesting from Mandya; it may have a ripple effect in the region, according to analysts.

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