Congress faced three setbacks last month when prominent leaders praised JD (S) national president H.D. Deve Gowda, leaving party workers in a quandary

The Congress must first set its house in order in Hassan before launching campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls as it is facing a tough competition from the Janata Dal (Secular).

The party faced three setbacks last month when prominent leaders praised JD (S) national president H.D. Deve Gowda, leaving Congress workers in a quandary.

One of them was caused by H.C. Mahadevappa, Public Works Minister and district in-charge, on February 17 at a programme organised by the Hassan Union of Milk Producers’ Cooperative Societies, which is headed by H.D. Revanna of the JD(S). Mr. Mahadevappa praised Mr. Gowda and Mr. Revanna, giving them credit for developing the dairy sector. His words shocked party workers, as the entire speech was reserved for the duo.

The Congress came down on him later. Many leaders were also shaken because the Minister had not bothered to list out the achievements of the Congress government in the same sector, such as the enhancement in subsidy for milk producers.

Y.N. Rudresh Gowda, Belur MLA, one among the two Congress MLAs in the district, in a programme organised by the district administration to mark the launch of government works on March 3, said the district received more funds for public works during Mr. Gowda’s term as Prime Minister than what it was receiving now.

Sharief’s request

And more recently, the former Minister Jaffer Sharief wrote to Congress high command, appealing them not to field a Congress candidate in Hassan as he felt that the presence of a senior leader such as Mr. Gowda in Parliament was necessary.

The party refused Mr. Sharief’s appeal, and announced A. Manju, Arkalgud MLA, as its candidate in the first list itself.

Still, Mr. Sharief’s statement became a talking point for the JD(S). Its leaders on Monday hinted that they would highlight Mr. Sharief’s statement during electioneering; Patel Shivaram, MLC, and B.V. Karigowda, former legislator, referred to the statement at a press conference here.

The Congress candidate now has the task of motivating party workers to campaign hard and also convince voters that the Congress is strong enough to defeat its opponents.

Mr. Gowda has won from the Hassan Lok Sabha constituency four times, and is contesting once again, while this is Mr. Manju’s first attempt.

According to sources in the Congress, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has taken the contest in Hassan seriously and will be devoting more time to campaign here.

He will also be deputing strong leaders to look after the campaigning, sources added.

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