Siddaramaiah’s dilemma over Kolar continues, with predictions that it is a tough terrain

Congress high command has reportedly advised him against contesting from the constituency

Updated - March 18, 2023 09:56 pm IST

Published - March 18, 2023 09:24 pm IST - Bengaluru

A file photo of Congress leader Siddaramaiah being greeted by his supporters during his Kolar visit.

A file photo of Congress leader Siddaramaiah being greeted by his supporters during his Kolar visit. | Photo Credit:

The Congress top brass’ suggestion to Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah not to contest from Kolar constituency has apparently put the former Chief Minister in a Catch-22 situation on choosing the constituency for the upcoming Legislative Assembly elections.

Sources in the Congress said the party’s internal survey revealed a “setback” to Mr. Siddaramaiah if he contested from Kolar. The central leaders reportedly conveyed survey findings to the former Chief Minister through the former AICC president Rahul Gandhi, after the party’s Central Election Committee meeting in New Delhi on Friday. Mr. Gandhi reportedly asked Mr. Siddaramaiah to contest from Varuna constituency in Mysuru district, represented by his son Yathindra.

Kolar yatra postponed

Meanwhile, Mr. Siddaramaiah, seven-time MLA, postponed his Praja Dhwani Yatra in Kolar on March 19 and 21, said Kolar DCC president C. Lakshminarayana. This fuelled uncertainty about Mr. Siddaramaiah contesting from Kolar.

Asked about the constituency he will be contesting from, Mr. Siddaramaiah, who arrived in Bengaluru on Saturday, said, he would abide by the high command’s decision. To a question on reports about Mr. Gandhi advising him not to contest from Kolar, he said, “I have left it to the high command. Whatever the high command decides, I will go by that.”

Mr. Siddaramaiah, who is MLA from Badami, had earlier said he had decided to contest the upcoming elections from Kolar, subject to approval from the party high command. Incidentally, when Mr. Siddaramaiah applied for the party ticket last year, he had not indicated any constituency from which he was seeking the ticket.

Issues in Kolar

Factionalism within the Congress in the Kolar unit, lack of party base in the constituency, and a mixed voter basket in Kolar, comprising a chunk of Muslim, Dalit, Kurubas, and the dominant Vokkaliga, might have been cited as reasons for predicting that it would prove a tough terrain for the senior Congress leader.

Speculation is rife in the political circles that the former Chief Minister might opt for either Varuna or one of the constituencies in Bengaluru. In 2018, he contested from two constituencies and lost to G.T. Deve Gowda (JD-S) in Chamundeshwari constituency and narrowly won against Transport Minister B. Sriramulu by about 1,700 votes.

The 75-year-old Congress leader chose Kolar on the ground that Badami was too far from Bengaluru. Though his followers offered to buy a helicopter to visit Badami, Mr. Siddaramaiah turned down their offer.

Kolar’s curious electoral history

Kolar, close to Bengaluru, is currently represented by K. Srinivas Gowda, who has been suspended from the JD(S) for his alleged anti-party activities. In the last 14 Assembly elections in Kolar, the Congress won five times, Independents on seven occasions, while the JD(U) and the JD(S) won once each. Mr. Gowda has won four times as an Independent, from the Congress, the JD(U), and the JD(S). He told a TV channel on Saturday that he would not support any Congress candidate, while he too would not contest the elections.

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