Karnataka

Changing loyalties: Tough battle at the grassroots as leaders switch sides

A file photo of Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa holding a roadshow in Ranebennur.

A file photo of Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa holding a roadshow in Ranebennur.  

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A former councillor from Bengaluru, who had switched from the BJP to the Congress and is now back in the parent party fold, is not having an easy time ahead of the bypolls. While his leader, a disqualified MLA, seems comfortable and is a contestant, the councillor is uncertain over his political career.

“Back then, I had left the BJP because my self-respect was hurt, and now I am back in the BJP because my leader has joined it. I believe he will take care of me,” the councillor, in his 40s, told The Hindu. This sense of uncertainty is not a one-off case among the lower-rung leaders, who have changed party loyalties with the leaders they follow.

Many grassroots workers, block-level party functionaries and members or former members of local bodies, who have followed their legislators, are finding it tough on the ground. Many are also finding it difficult to get used to the “new party culture” and also know well that they are seen as “competitors” by the old party workers.

Some of the followers of Shivaram Hebbar in Yellapura and B.S. Anand Singh in Vijayanagara find themselves in a tough situation as both disqualified legislators were earlier in the BJP, moved to the Congress, and now are back in the BJP.

In Vijayanagara constituency, Mr. Singh’s switch has affected loyal BJP workers and leaders. When he joined the Congress, the saffron party wooed H.R. Gaviyappa from the Congress to take on Mr. Singh. With Mr. Singh back in BJP, Mr. Gaviayyappa’s political career is at stake as it is difficult for him to go back to the Congress.

In Shivajinagar, councillors believed to be followers of the former Minister R. Roshan Baig are in a quandary for another reason. Their leader, earlier tipped to be the BJP candidate, could not get ticket or even enter the party. This has left followers in a tricky situation, since they are neither associated with the official Congress candidate nor openly with Mr. Baig. A former Congress worker, now in the BJP, said: “In several constituencies, including Hoskote, Athani and Gokak, disqualified legislators themselves are facing trouble. Imagine then the plight of the workers.”

The Bengaluru councillor said: “Leaders easily bury their differences with time. But it is harder for workers at the grassroots’ level.”

In fact, in Ramanagaram that had witnessed hostilities between followers of JD(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda and Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar, the cadre took a long time to come to terms with the leaders burying the hatchet.

A similar situation had prevailed during the Congress-JD(S) coalition, where there was no cohesion at the grassroots’ level between workers of the two parties.

(Sharath S. Srivatsa in Bengaluru with Girish Pattanashetti in Hubballi and Kumar Buradikatti in Kalaburagi)

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 7:38:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/changing-loyalties-tough-battle-at-the-grassroots-as-leaders-switch-sides/article30152607.ece

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