Deve Gowda picks Tumkur seat, ally Congress’s sitting MP wants to fight him

The Janata Dal (Secular) on Saturday announced that Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda would contest from the Tumkur seat in the Lok Sabha poll as the candidate of the coalition the party has with the Congress.

There had been much speculation about where Deve Gowda would contest from after he vacated his Hassan seat for his grandson Prajwal Revanna. Another grandson, Nikhil Kumar, is contesting from Mandya.

Putting an end to the speculations, JD(S) spokesperson Ramesh Babu said, “Former Prime Minister and JD(S) National president HD Deve Gowda will contest from Tumkur Parliamentary constituency as JD(S) and Congress combined candidate.” He is set to file his nomination on Monday.

Explaining the decision, a senior JD(S) leader, did not wish to be named, said Deve Gowda was finally influenced by the fact that the party had a good hold on the district. “The party had also considered the Bangalore North seat. However, it was felt that the party’s hold on Tumkur was greater,” the leader said.

Also read:Deve Gowda breaks down as he announces grandson’s name for Hassan seat

There had been pressure on Deve Gowda from leaders in both constituencies. In Bangalore North, state rural development minister Krishna Byregowda had sounded out the former PM about contesting from there.

On Thursday, Deve Gowda had visited Byregowda’s house to hold a meeting. Each Lok Sabha constituency in Karnataka has eight assembly segments. Byregowda had pointed out to Deve Gowda that in Bangalore North the coalition had won seven of the eight segments — five by Congress and two by JD(S) — in the assembly elections of 2018. In Tumkur, meanwhile, the BJP had the lead, having won four, the JD(S) had won three and the Congress one.

Even as news was filtering in of Deve Gowda’s decision, Congress’s SP Muddahanumegowda, the sitting MP from the seat, said he would file his nomination on Monday as the Congress candidate.

Addressing the press in Tumakuru, Muddahanumegowda said: “All our leaders, workers and elected representatives have unanimously told me that I have to stand from this seat. Hence, on Monday I will file my nomination from the seat as the Congress candidate.”

Later, speaking to HT Muddahanumegowda said that he was confident that the party would review its decision to not contest the seat. “I have taken this decision because there is pressure on me to contest from here. Our party workers are united on this,” he said. He ruled out any possibility of joining the Bharatiya Janata Party as it had already announced its candidate, veteran politician GS Basavaraj.

Muddahanumegowda had been upset that the Congress had gone against its stated position of not compromising on any of the 10 seats it currently held and gave Tumkur to the JD(S) as part of the seat-sharing agreement between the coalition partners. He had received support from deputy chief minister G Parameshwara, whose Koratagere assembly constituency comes in Tumkur Lok Sabha constituency.

A senior Congress leader said the decision to give up on Tumkur was taken as an exchange for the Mysore seat, which former chief minister and Congress Legislature Party chief Siddaramaiah was unwilling to give up.

State Congress working president Eshwar Khandre said party leaders would hold meetings with Muddahanumegowda and convince him to consider the party’s interests before taking any decision. “We will convince him that the party has agreed on this seat sharing and that in the interest of the party he will have to step aside,” he said.

Meanwhile, Deve Gowda’s decision has left leaders in the Bangalore North constituency in the lurch. Speaking to HT, Byregowda said in meetings MLAs of the constituency had unanimously proposed the name of Deve Gowda as the candidate. “We had not discussed any other name for the seat,” he said. “Now, we will have to sit and discuss other alternatives,” he added while ruling himself out of the race.

The JD(S) has had a dearth of candidates in the state for the eight seats it is set to contest, and as a result in some seats it would rely on the Congress to “lend” it candidates.

“For the Udupi-Chikmagalur seat, the party has almost finalised the name of former Congress minister Pramod Madhwaraj,” the senior JD(S) leader quoted above said. “At present we do not have any aspirants in the Bijapur and Bangalore North seats,” he added.

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