Ending days of suspense, Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) on Saturday said its National President and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda will contest the Lok Sabha poll from Tumkur. The 85-year-old JD(S) patriarch had earlier expressed doubts about contesting the polls, saying he was thinking about his "usefulness" in the national capital.
"Former PM and JDS National president Sri HD Deve Gowda will contest from Tumkur Parliamentary constituency as JD(S)-Congress combined candidate," JD(S) Spokesperson Ramesh Babu said in a statement.
Gowda will file his nomination on March 25, he said, adding that JD(S) and Congress leaders will be present on the occasion. Gowda ceded the Hassan seat that he had been representing to his grandson Prajwal Revanna. Amid doubts about Gowda contesting the polls, as he had earlier indicated he would not, there was speculation that he may contest from Bangalore North.
Though there was pressure within JD(S) for their party supremo to contest from Bangalore North, it was apprehensive about Congress’ complete support there as most party’s MLAs there are considered close to Gowda’s bete noire Siddaramaiah. It was feared that the MLAs may seek to take revenge for the former Chief Minister’s defeat from Chamundeshwari in the 2018 assembly polls.
Interestingly, JD-S' announcement on Gowda’s constituency comes on a day when Congress' sitting Member of Parliament from Tumkur SP Muddahanumegowda on Saturday said he would file his nomination on Monday as the party candidate.
Muddahanumegowda’s decision goes against the seat sharing arrangement reached between the Congress and JD(S), according to which Tumkur seat has gone to the regional party. If Muddahanumegowda contests from Tumkur as a rebel, it will add to the Congress-JD(S) coalition worries as the alliance is facing backlash at several places,including Mandya and Hassan, with party workers unhappy with the seat arrangements.
In Tumkur, there is simmering discontent within the Congress’ local leadership about ceding the seat to JD(S), despite party having a sitting MP there. 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, including Mandya.
BJP has fielded G S Basavaraj as its candidate from Tumkur. Gowda’s other son and Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil is the candidate from the JD(S) bastion of Mandya. The Congress and JD(S), that had bitterly fought against each other ahead of May 2018 assembly polls, decided to join hands to form a coalition government as the election threw up a hung verdict.