Bengaluru: Wary of dissidence within hampering the prospects of the ruling Congress-JD(S) alliance in Karnataka, Congress has warned its workers of 'strong disciplinary action' if they work against the coalition candidate in the Lok Sabha polls.
With transfer of votes between Congress and JD(S) crucial for them to outperform the BJP, there is a worry in both parties that dissidence may affect their performance.
Both parties that had fought bitterly against each other ahead of the May 2018 assembly polls, joined hands to form an alliance as the election threw up a hung verdict.
Though the coalition leaders decided to go to the polls together, it is not something that workers of both parties at the booth level, who have been fighting each other,agree with.
With the alliance facing trouble in several key Lok Sabha constituencies, especially in old Mysuru region, as Congress workers are unhappy over the seat sharing arrangement with JD(S), Cong warns its workers of disciplinary action if they work against coalition candidate held a meeting late last night with senior state party leaders.
In a meeting attended by Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, Pradesh Congress President Dinesh Gundu Rao and ministers from the party, Venugopal gave the responsibility of resolving the dissidence to district in-charge ministers and warned of disciplinary action against those working against the alliance candidate.
"Those working against JD(S) candidate...those Congress leaders working against the Congress-JD(S) alliance candidate, we will take strong disciplinary action," Venugopal told reporters.
"Nobody will be spared. It is a clear message to every Congress man," he said, as he conceded there are some 'small issues' between both parties, which were being patched-up.
Also, noting that the Congress and its rank and file have a 'broader interest,' which is to defeat the BJP at any cost, Venugopal said those working against the Congress-JD(S) candidate will not have any place in the party.
"We have to reduce the number of BJP in larger way. Those helping the BJP, those helping independents supported by BJP, they will not have any place in the Congress. I'm very categorically sending the message."
The alliance is facing a backlash at several places, including Tumkur, Mandya and Hassan, with party workers unhappy with the seat arrangements.
Though Congress sitting MP from Tumkur S P Muddahanumegowda, who had filed his nomination as a rebel, miffed over being denied the ticket, withdrew his candidacy Friday, there is still ambiguity about the grand old party workers there supporting former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, the joint candidate of ruling alliance.
In Mandya, where Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy's son Nikhil is the candidate, Congress workers are upset over the party ceding the seat to JD(S) and many of them have extended support to independent candidate and multi-lingual actress Sumalatha Ambareesh, who also has BJPs support.
They also see it as dynasty politics of Deve Gowda being imposed on them, as Gowda family hails from Hassan.
In Hassan too, Deve Gowda's other grandson Prajwal Revanna is facing some challenge as he is pitted against former Congress Minister A Manju,who is now the BJP candidate.
Manju quit Congress ahead of the polls, disgruntled with the party's decision to cede the seat to JD(S).
Mandya, Mysore and Tumkur come under old Mysuru region where the Vokkaliga community, seen as a strong vote bank of JD(S) is dominant.
The Congress too has considerable presence there. In the same way Congress too will need JD(S) support in several seats like Mysore, Chikkaballapur, Kolar, Bangalore North and Bangalore Rural, where the regional party has a considerable vote base
For the coalition to emerge as a formidable opposition to BJP and win more number of seats, it is crucial for the Congress to transfer its votes to JD(S) and vice-versa.
With the cordiality of the alliance still not reaching grassroot level workers of both parties, who have been arch rivals for decades,it remains to be seen how this transfer of votes take place.
According to the seat sharing arrangement, Congress and JD(S) will contest in 21 and 7 Lok Sabha seats respectively.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, BJP had won 17 seats, while Congress and JD(S) had won nine and two seats respectively.
However, during the recently held by-polls BJP had lost the Bellary seat to Congress.