Karnataka

JD(S) leaders sweat it out to get their once man Friday defeated

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Gopalaiah was among the legislators who defected to the BJP

Mahalakshmi Layout in Bengaluru has seen some intense campaigning from the top JD(S) leaders — former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and the party’s octogenarian patriarch H.D. Deve Gowda. They have been working with just one priority: not to go down without a fight against the Bharatiya Janata Party nominee Gopalaiah K., one of the disqualified MLAs, who “betrayed” JD(S) to join the saffron party. He was once close to the JD(S) top brass.

The constituency is clearly seeing a two-way fight between the BJP and the JD(S). Though the former appears to have an edge, the latter is keenly fighting against the odds.

Party workers on the ground say Mr. Gopalaiah has an advantage as he managed to bag 55% of the total vote share last time and has a sizeable number of followers here. In addition, two JD(S) councillors — one being his wife S.P. Hemalatha, former Deputy Mayor, in the same Assembly constituency — have crossed over to the BJP. Besides this, several JD(S) workers on the field are also working to ensure that Mr. Gopalaiah emerges victorious.

Though there was dissidence from other ticket aspirants and some BJP leaders, who had a problem with Mr. Gopalaiah’s image, it does not seem to have posed a hurdle for Mr. Gopalaiah as elections near.

What left many surprised was that the JD(S) decided to field Girish K. Nashi, a Lingayat, against Mr. Gopalaiah, a Vokkaliga. The constituency is known to have a sizeable number of Vokkaliga voters. The Assembly constituency has seven wards — four of which have JD(S) councillors, two Congress and one BJP councillor.

The Congress too is trying to consolidate its votes and has asked its leaders, including former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and former Minister D.K. Shivakumar, to campaign in the area.

The voters here appear divided on whether their former MLA’s disqualification and his decision to switch loyalties from JD(S) to BJP are matters that will weigh against him. Prasad S., a resident in the constituency, said, “It would definitely be an issue we would raise and consider. But there is lack of a good alternative. What will give him an advantage is that he is seen as an accessible man to the residents in the locality.”

Congress candidate and Shankar Math councillor, M. Shivaraju, who is a three-time councillor, however, said, “Mr. Gopalaiah has lost trust of the voters. There was no need for an election but for his decision to switch because of vested interests. People in this locality want a change this time around.”

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 6:14:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/jds-leaders-sweat-it-out-to-get-their-once-man-friday-defeated/article30126706.ece

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