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Mandya: Can Kumaraswamy win where his son lost in 2019 polls?

By Kishore SU
April 13, 2024 14:14 IST
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A contest between a former chief minister and a political greenhorn is being projected as a battle between an "outsider" and a "local" by the ruling Congress, raising the stakes for Janata Dal-Secular in this key Lok Sabha poll in this 'Sakkare Naadu' (land of sugar).

IMAGE: BJP candidates for LS polls V Somanna, Tejasvi Surya (4th from right), Shobha Karandlaje (6th from right), PC Mohan and Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar along with JD-S candidate HD Kumaraswamy (third from left), meet Nirmalanandanatha Swamiji, in Bengaluru, April 4, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

This Vokkaliga dominated, largely agrarian constituency is all set for a face-off between JD-S leader and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy contesting as the joint candidate of his party and its alliance partner the Bharatiya Janata Party, and Congress' Venkataramane Gowda, popularly known as 'Star Chandru', a contractor.


While Kumaraswamy hails from Hassan district and largely operates from neighbouring Ramanagara, Gowda is from Nagamangala taluk.

Mandya lies between Bengaluru and Mysuru.

The heartland of Vokkaliga politics in the Old Mysuru region, is known for rivalry between Congress and JD-S to gain upper hand, while the BJP is relatively weak here but has been gaining strength in recent years.

Winning this seat is key for Kumaraswamy, the son of former prime minister HD Deve Gowda and Congress' Vokkaliga leaders especially deputy Chief Minister and state Congress president DK Shivakumar, to strengthen their clout over the region and the community.

In 2019, actor turned-politician Sumalatha Ambareesh, an independent backed by the BJP, won by defeating then Kumaraswamy's son and joint candidate of the then ruling Congress-JD-S alliance Nikhil by 1,25,876 votes.

Though Sumalatha sought a BJP ticket for re-election, the saffron party ceded the seat to its alliance partner the JD-S, and also managed to convince her.

Kumaraswamy met her subsequently. Sumalatha last week announced her decision to opt out of the elections, and joined the BJP. She is yet to campaign for him.

Once considered a JD-S bastion, the regional party now has just one MLA in the district. Congress has its might with six MLAs including a minister and two MLCs on its side.

JD-S initially appeared to be on the back-foot in Mandya, but the entry of Kumaraswamy, who enjoys personal connect and bonding with voters here, in the poll arena galvanised the party cadre and boosted their morale, a party leader said.

Congress, aiming to wrest Mandya after a gap of 10 years, had announced much in advance the candidature of Star Chandru, the brother of Independent MLA from Gauribidanur K H Puttaswamy Gowda, who backed the Congress in the Rajya Sabha polls earlier this year.

The grand old party is hopeful about his win, banking on its growing strength in the district and the state government's guarantee schemes.

"However, agriculture and irrigation related issues, drought, release of Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu despite drought here and perception that the state government did not do much to stop it, may have some adverse impact on the Congress' prospect," a party functionary said.

"Speculation about Kumaraswamy becoming Union Minister in the event of NDA returning to power, while Star Chandru remaining a mere MP, may resonate among the masses", a political analyst said. "The possible anger among the Vokkaliga voters in the district about Shivakumar, who is from the community, not being made CMr after assembly polls, may also have its impact."

On their part, Shivakumar and other Congress leaders have tried to project Kumaraswamy as an outsider. "He is like a touring talkies hopping from one place to another," Shivakumar said alleging that Kumaraswamy has come to Mandya, deserting people of Ramanagara and Channapatna.

Pitching himself as the son of the soil from Mandya, Star Chandru said, "Mandya people have seen earlier that people from outside come here and get elected promising to be with them, addressing them as anna (elder brother), tamma (younger brother), but after getting elected they are not accessible, but I'm from here, I will always be with the people."

Kumaraswamy is hoping for a win, based on his personal appeal and goodwill among Mandya voters, and consolidation of Vokkaliga vote base, besides banking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity and BJP's support.

"Congress' strength in the district and JD-S' core vote base moving away from the party, seen during the assembly polls, is still a major concern," a JD(S) leader said.

He also said that there is an absolute need for BJP and JD-S workers to work together on the ground for the transfer of saffron party votes in favour of Kumaraswamy. For this, Sumalatha's active support and that of local BJP leaders, would help in no small measure.

Highlighting Mandya district's contribution in giving political strength to him and his party, Kumaraswamy, calling it "heart of JD-S", said the party's strength has weakened in Mandya for some time now, and the people and JD-S workers want him here for the development of the district and growth of the party.

He has also expressed his ambition to be Union agriculture minister.

"There is certainly a Modi wave in Mandya too and coupled with Kumaraswamy's contest in this Vokkaliga belt, BJP and JD-S are certain to win from here. People don't know about Star Chandru. Siddaramaiah is here (as CM), but we want Modi in Delhi," said an office goer in Maddur.

A young voter in Mandya said, "Kumaraswamy comes when he is in need and speaks about Mandya, later he is not accessible. He may give a fight in the election, but Star Chandru will win."

Mandya has eight assembly segments, out of which six are represented by Congress, and one each by JD-S and Sarvodaya Karnataka Paksha.

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Kishore SU in Mandya
Source: PTI© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
India Votes 2024

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