The saffron surge in Karnataka did not spare even the traditional strongholds of coalition partners Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) in Old Mysore region, leaving the alliance virtually in tatters.
The triumph of BJP in many parts of Old Mysore region has served to expose the chinks in the electoral partnership between Congress and JD(S). The rout of the alliance despite forging a seat sharing arrangement has raised questions over the chemistry between the two parties.
After fighting each other in elections bitterly for decades, the Congress and JD (S) joined hands after last year’s Assembly polls to not only form a coalition Government, but to fight the Lok Sabha polls jointly against the “communal” BJP.
The semblance of camaraderie between the leaders of the two parties at the State level - notwithstanding the potshots their leaders took at each other at frequent intervals - apparently failed to percolate to the grass root level.
The mutual animosities between the supporters of the two parties were so strong that many did not think twice before voting for the rival BJP instead of supporting the coalition candidate; a Congress leader claimed recalling the admission by JD (S) leader G.T. Deve Gowda that JD (S) supporters had voted for BJP in Mysuru Lok Sabha constituency.
A few Congress leaders even attributed absence of political strategy for the common good of the coalition partners while sharing seats for the Lok Sabha elections. “Sharing of seats was marred by confusion. The leaders did not assess the mood of the supporters of the two parties before announcing the candidate, which led to the acrimony spilling out in public”, said Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) spokesperson H.A. Venkatesh.
“Factors like caste and winnability were also given a go-by in many constituencies. Personal egos of senior leaders were taken into consideration”, said another Congress leader, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The internecine conflicts between coalition partners provided a fertile ground for an upbeat BJP, riding a pro-Modi wave, to put up its best-ever performance in the Old Mysore region. The saffron party, which till recently was ending up as an also-ran in the contests primarily involving Congress and JD (S), has now been successful in making a near complete sweep in the old Mysore region.
Apart from triumphing in the three seats it held in Bengaluru and one in Mysuru, the BJP expanded its winning streak to Tumkur, Chikkaballapura and Kolar, humbling veteran leaders like former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, former Chief Minister M. Veerappa Moily and former Union Minister K.H. Muniyappa respectively.
Former Union Minister V. Srinivas Prasad, who suffered a humiliating debacle in the by-elections to the Assembly from Nanjangud in 2017, managed to win from Chamarajanagar Lok Sabha constituency as the BJP candidate, defeating R. Dhruvanarayan of the Congress.
Rubbing salt into the wounds of the JD (S) was the victory of BJP-supported Sumalatha Ambarish against Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil Kumaraswamy in a high-profile electoral battle in Mandya Lok Sabha constituency.
Defying the pro-BJP wave not only in old Mysore region but in the rest of the State were D.K. Suresh of the Congress in Bengaluru Rural and Prajwal Revanna of the JD (S) in Hassan.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Venkatesh blamed the media for playing a highly partisan role in the run-up to the elections, propagating the BJP in the minds of the public, which gave saffron party an edge. “The media was not neutral”, he lamented.