Karnataka diary: Sulking Krishna adds to Congress' woes

Last Updated: Mon, Apr 29, 2013 19:40 hrs

Bangalore: Now, it is writing on the wall for the Vokkaliga strongman of Congress and former chief minister S M Krishna as he has been cut off from the party's official campaign.

Earlier, he skipped the Mandya constituency, where his arch rival in the party and former minister H M Ambarish is contesting, to continue his tour in the district.

Krishna also skipped the release of the party's manifesto.

Later, he vented his ire against the party set-up, which ignored his experience.

On Monday, he skipped the public rally by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which was organised at Kumblagod in the outskirts of the city.

After his outburst against the state party unit, most of the Congress leaders were afraid of talking to Krishna. AICC General Secretary Madhusudan Mistry tried to patch things up with Krishna and invited him to the Prime Minister's function.

Krishna, who did not react at that time, decided to campaign in favor of his associate R V Devaraj, who is contesting from Chickpet Assembly constituency in Bangalore city.

Krishna, restricting himself to campaigning for some of his followers, sent a strong signal in the Old-Mysore region. Krishna has also left the entire Vokkaliga community votes to JD(S) supremo Mr H D Deve Gowda.

In 1999, Krishna had managed to tilt the Vokkaliga votes in favor of Congress and had become chief minister.

The trouble for Congress began when the party formed a 60-member candidate selection committee, of which Krishna was also a member.

Traditionally, Congress' candidate selection committee did not exceed 15 members.

Krishna kept out of all the meetings, but furnished a list of candidates of his choice to the party high command. When the candidate list came out, there was surprise for Krishna. Former Union Minister H M Ambarish had a final say in the candidate selection of Mandya district, while his other supporters also did not get due importance.

Ever since he stepped down as External Affair Minister, Krishna felt that he was being sidelined by the party. Most of the leaders, including Mallikarjun Kharge, Veerappa Moily and Siddaramaiah, were vary of Krishna plunging into active politics in the state.

Even the party high command did not consider Krishna for any major decision regarding poll strategy.

Congress and JD(S) have been traditional rivals in the Old Mysore region, comprising Ramanagar, Kolar, Chickaballapur, Tumkur, Mandya, Hassan, Chamarajnagar and Mysore districts. Excluding Bangalore city, the Old Mysore region has more than 75 Assembly segments.

During the last five years of BJP government, the Vokkaliga belt has felt let down and there was a polarisation against Lingayat community. The region also has a strong presence of the third largest community -- Kurubas, who are cut off from the Vokkaliga community, after Siddaramaiah quit the party in 2006.

However, Gowda has managed to foster a bunch of Kuruba leaders like Bandeppa Kashyampur, Suresh Babu to minimise the damage. The presence of Lingayats in the area is restricted to some patches.

The internal squabbling of Vokkaligas in Congress has benefited JD(S) to further tilt the Vokkaliga votes towards it. While Congress is banking on Kuruba votes, even Lingayats in the state have deserted Congress, after the party refused to give due representation to the community.
At the moment, JD(S) has seized the momentum in Old-Mysore region, except in Chikkaballapur district. Congress has consolidated its position in Chamarajnagar district, where JD(S)'s organisational set up failed to live up to its expectation.
In 2004, JD(S) had won almost 40 of 75 seats in this region, forcing a coalition government in the state. This time, it is hoping to improve the tally in the region.

Politicians use cell phones to reach crowds

The mobile revolution seems to have done one good thing. During the last three days, at least two leaders in Karnataka have made best use of mobile to reach out the crowds, which were waiting for them.

On Saturday, former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy was delayed in Chennagiri, Davanagere district. His next destination was Sindagi in Raichur district, but the pilot of the chopper said that they could not make it to Sindagi and back to Bangalore, as it was getting dark.

Kumaraswamy was told that the people were waiting for him for the last four hours. He just asked the caller to on the speaker and keep it near the mike. For the next one hour, the people in Sindagi were listening to Kumaraswamy's speech from air.

On Monday, BJP General Secretary Ananth Kumar could not land in Sringeri, Chickmagalur district,due to adverse whether. He had to address a public function there. Ananth Kumar had already taken a lead from Kumaraswamy and started his speech through his mobile phone. Sringeri candidate Jeevaraj switched on his mobile phone's speaker and kept it near the mike.

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