Bengaluru: When the December 5 byelections were announced, the Janata Dal (Secular) hoped to retain K R Pete in its stronghold of Mandya and even had its eyes on Gokak, where it fielded Mr Ashok Pujari, a BJP rebel against the Jarkiholi brothers.
To doubly make sure of its chances in Mandya, it entered into a strategic agreement with the Congress to transfer its votes to it in K R Pete, Chikkaballapura and Hunsur, and in return receive Congress votes in Yeshwanthpur, where the party had lost in the general elections by a narrow margin.
Former minister D.K Shivakumar, who brokered the negotiations in the old Mysuru region, reportedly believed that as K R Pete was a dicey constituency with a large number of Kuruba voters, and Hunsur was former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s turf, JD(S) support for the Congress in these constituencies could result in the Kurubas voting against the BJP. He felt the formula would work in Chikkaballapura too, according to sources.
The strategy suited the JD(S), which was hoping to win at least one constituency and had seen its candidate, Javarai Gowda lose by a narrow margin of around 10000 votes in Yeshwanthpur during the general election.
However, things changed as the campaigning started to heat up. Senior JD(S) leader, H D Revanna took over the party campaign in the hope of defeating both the Congress and BJP. In Chikkaballapura, JD(S) candidate, Radhakrishna, began to feel that if the Congress could retain its traditional votes, he could defeat Dr Sudhakar of the BJP. In Hunsur, the JD(S) candidate also tried for a victory against the Congress.
The trouble with all three constituencies is that they have a large number of Kuruba voters, whose voting pattern can prove crucial to the fate a candidate.
As the JD(S) tried to focus on itself too much in these three constituencies, the Congress then decided to play neutral in Yeshwanthpur, according to sources. And as the party also tried to meddle with Hunsur, the entire Kuruba community voted strategically to defeat it here, say sources. In Hunsur, the community voted for the Congress, and for the BJP in Chikkaballapura and K R Pete.
Although the JD(S) had a good chance of winning in K R Pete, local Congress leaders realised they were not getting its support and during the last two days threw their weight behind BJP, to ensure the defeat of its candidate. The battle then became one between the Gowda family versus local Congress leaders, who were fighting with their backs to the wall for survival.