Bengaluru: Defying the pre-poll alliance between the ruling allies in Karnataka, outgoing Congress Lok Sabha member S.P. Muddahanumegowda on Saturday dared to re-contest from Tumkur constituency from where Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda is contesting and filing nomination on Monday.
“Though my party (Congress) conceded my constituency (Tumkur) to the JD-S as part of the seat-sharing arrangement, I have decided to re-contest in response to the demand from thousands of my supporters and cadre,” Muddahanumegowda told reporters in Kannada at Tumkur, about 70km northwest of Bengaluru.
As part of the pre-poll tie-up, the Congress is contesting from 20 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats across the southern state, leaving the remaining 8, including Tumkur to the JD-S despite vociferous protests by the party’s local leaders and cadres.
“I will also file nomination on Monday as a Congress candidate from Tumkur again even if Deve Gowda files nomination as a JD-S candidate. In the event of my party not giving me B-form as its contestant, I will still be in the fray as an Independent,” an agitated Muddahanumegowda said, adding he cannot let down his supporters at any cost.
Accusing his party high command of going back on its word to allow all its nine outgoing or sitting LoK Sabha members to re-contest, the rebel MP said why he should be made a scapegoat when the party’s other MPs were allowed to re-contest from their seats.
In fact, with 9 wins in the 2014 parliamentary polls from the state, the Congress had the largest number of Lok Sabha members from Karnataka, accounting for 21 per cent of the 44 seats it won from across the country though lowest ever since the first general elections way back in 1951-52.
The BJP won 17 and JD-S only 2 in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from the state.
Ironically, Deputy Chief Minister from the Congress G. Parameshwara, who hails from Tumkur district, is said to be backing Muddahanumegowda unofficially due to mounting pressure from the party’s local leaders and cadres.
“I hope my party leaders and the JD-S will understand the pulse of the voters and allow me to re-contest from Tumkur and re-allocate another parliamentary seat to the JD-S,” said an emotional Muddahanumegowda.
Earlier in the evening, JD-S spokesman Ramesh Babu said in a statement that former prime minister Deve Gowda would file his nomination on March 25 at the deputy commissioner’s office at Tumkur as a joint candidate of the JD-S-Congress alliance.
The 85-year-old Gowda has shifted his parliamentary constituency from Hassan, about 180km from here, after representing it for a record six times since 1991 to pave way for his grandson Prajwal to contest in his place for the first time.
Prajwal, the only son of Deve Gowda’s second son and state PWD Minister H.D. Revanna, filed his nomination on March 22 from the Hassan parliamentary seat, which is the traditional bastion of the Gowda clan.
Polling in Tumkur and Hassan will be held in the first phase on April 18 along with 12 other seats in the central and southern regions of the state.
Polling in the remaining 14 seats in the coastal and northern regions will be held in the second phase on April 23.
Vote count in all the 28 Lok Sabha seats across the state will be on May 23.