KARNATAKA

Vishwanath’s victory surprises party detractors

Special Correspondent



Congress regains its foothold in Mysore



MYSORE: The election of Adagur H. Vishwanath of Congress from the Mysore Lok Sabha constituency heralds the arrival of a shrewd political leader with a penchant for speaking his mind and courting controversies.

Mr. Vishwanath, who is making his debut at the national level after 30 years in State politics, was first elected as an MLA from K.R. Nagar in 1978 and 1989, and again in 1999.

He lost the 1983, 1985, 1994, 2004 and 2008 Assembly elections. Following his back-to-back electoral reverses from K.R. Nagar in the 2004 and 2008 Assembly elections, his detractors within the Congress did not think he would win.

Though out of power successively, Mr. Vishwanath continued to be in the news. His views during the 2004 Assembly elections, that the Congress would suffer a reverse and would require the support of the Janata Dal (Secular), invited rebuke from senior party leaders, but it was Mr. Vishwanath who had the last laugh as his views proved prophetic.

Controversy

During the 2008 Assembly elections, Mr. Viswhanath released his autobiography “Halli Hakkiya Haadu”, in which a passing mention to a private conversation between him and the former Chief Minister S.M. Krishna about a proposal for the latter with actress B. Saroja Devi more than 50 years ago, triggered a State-wide controversy and a storm within the Congress. More recently, Mr. Vishwanath was credited with exploiting the weaknesses in the JD(S) camp and wooing the former Deputy Chief Minister Siddaramaiah into the Congress fold and thus weakening the JD(S), which has changed the political landscape of the State.

Infighting

The infighting within the Congress camp and the political decline of the four-time MP and the scion of the royal family Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar, created a vacuum in the Congress, which was left without a noteworthy leader.

Following this, the party high command zeroed in on Mr. Vishwanath.

However, his candidature was opposed by many Congress leaders in Mysore and the caste-divide within the party created an impression that Mr. Vishwanath was losing momentum during the campaign.

However, party workers rallied around him and with the backing of Mr. Siddaramaiah and former Union Minister V. Srinivas Prasad he upset the Bharatiya Janata Party juggernaut in the State.

Mr. Vishwanath’s home constituency of K.R. Nagar was merged with the Mandya Parliamentary seat after the delimitation, and his detractors thought it would go against him.

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