Bengaluru: A meeting organised by the JD(S) leadership in Mysuru to ensure cadres of the coalition parties worked together for the upcoming Lok Sabha election turned chaotic on Friday.
Minister GT Devegowda called the meeting to urge party workers to join hands with Congress supporters when a few of them protested. "We were the ones who got involved in cases during the last election,” a party worker said.
The Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) formed a coalition government in May 2018 after the state election results led to a hung Assembly. Until then, the two were rivals, especially in the old Mysuru region.
Friday’s meeting was attended by several JD(S) leaders, including minister Sa Ra Mahesh and party’s state unit president AH Vishwanath.
When members started protesting against the idea of working together with their coalition partner, GT Devegowda came down from the dais and reached out to the workers in a bid to pacify them. However, the angry workers started shouting slogans with some of them even chanting the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
With the allies contesting the Lok Sabha election as part a pre-poll understanding, party leaders are staring at the challenge of transferring Congress votes to the JDS and vice versa.
In the Chamundeshwari Assembly constituency, GT Devegowda had defeated Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah in the 2018 election by about 35,000 votes.
Having been at loggerheads for decades and fighting a competitive election against each other only a year ago, the leaders are finding it difficult to convince party members to campaign together now.
The Mysuru Lok Sabha constituency has 11 Assembly segments, five of which is with the JDS and three each with the Congress and BJP.
“Not just in Chamundeshwari, in every constituency, the Congress and JD(S) have contested against each other. But this is the Lok Sabha election. We have asked them to keep aside the local issues and work together,” said GT Devegowda after the meeting.
CH Vijayshankar, a former BJP MP who has represented the constituency twice, is contesting on a Congress ticket as the coalition candidate. The failure of the two parties to work together is likely to directly benefit the sitting MP, Pratap Simha, of the BJP who is seeking a second term.
In the neighbouring constituency of Mandya, local Congress leaders have pledged support to independent candidate Sumalatha Ambareesh, widow of former MP and actor MH Ambareesh instead of their coalition candidate and son of Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, Nikhil Kumaraswamy, from the JD(S).
The local leaders were disappointed that the seat was given to Nikhil. Sumalatha is also backed by the BJP who has not fielded anyone from the party for the constituency.
Earlier, JD(S) leader and minister Sa Ra Mahesh had warned that the Mandya effect would spread to Mysuru. He had also said that if Congress workers did not support their candidate in Mandya, the JD(S) would not work for the Congress in Mysuru.
"I had warned about it. This is because of what happened in Tumkur, Mandya, and Hassan (where JD-S patriarch Deve Gowda and his grandsons are contesting from). The party workers have shared their concerns. It will be resolved and we have decided to work together," said Mahesh.