The Janata Dal (S) may have lost all the 12 assembly constituencies it contested from these bypolls, but former Chief Minister, H D Kumaraswamy can take satisfaction from the defeat in Hunsur of his former party president, A H Vishwanath, who was instrumental in bringing down the coalition government in July. While both the Congress and JD(S) had made it their mission to defeat the veteran leader, seeing him as their common enemy, he himself had clearly hoped to romp home to victory and admits to feeling shocked by his defeat.
In an interview with Deccan Chronicle, he spoke of his disbelief that Hunsur, which had elected him in 2018 as a JD(S) candidate, had turned its back on him this time. Interestingly, besides blaming the Congress and JD(S) for his defeat, he accused some BJP party leaders of backstabbing him in the recent bypoll. Excerpts:
Did the bypoll result surprise you?
It was not only surprising, but shocking. I had never expected this result because of the huge support from a cross section of people. I am still not able to believe that I lost.
Going by your talks with Chief Minister, B S Yediyurappa, were you not supposed to get the support of the BJP?
I should thank Mr Yediyurappa and senior leaders B Sriramulu, state planning board chairman B G Puttaswamy, Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha, Chamarajanagar MP, V Srinivasaprasad and scores of workers, who accompanied me in the campaign. But a few BJP leaders backstabbed me by working for my opponents. Now with the announcement of the results, there is no point in blaming anyone.
What major factor went against you?
One of the major factors was the vilification campaign against me, holding me responsible for the fall of the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) government headed by H.D. Kumaraswamy, especially in the Vokkaliga -dominated villages. Local JD(S) leaders instigated their community voters against me on the day of polling. The scenario, which was almost on my side, changed within 48 hours.
Did you think former chief minister Siddaramaiah would take revenge against you for your diatribe against him?
While BJP leaders worked for me, Siddaramaiah, former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, Chamundeshwari MLA G.T. Deve Gowda, his son Harish Gowda and K R Nagar MLA Sa Ra Mahesh ganged up against me, holding me responsible for the fall of the coalition government. Mr Gowda had promised to support me to the hilt , but backed out at the 11th hour. They stopped transfer of the Vokkaliga and Kuruba votes to me.
What made G.T. Deve Gowda join hands with his bete noire, Siddaramaiah?
Siddaramaiah patched up his differences with G T Deve Gowda, promising his son Harish Gowda, the Congress ticket from Hunsur in the 2023 assembly polls.
The newly-elected MLA, H.Manjunath will be the next Congress candidate from Mysuru-Kodagu parliamentary constituency. Besides, Gowda has reportedly promised to vacate the Chamundeshwari seat for Siddaramaiah, from where the latter was defeated by a big margin in the 2018 assembly polls. Also , the Congress MLA from H D Kote, Anil Chikmadu, allegedly distributed money in the strongholds of the Nayakas for their votes, which should otherwise have come to the BJP. In addition, the Janata Dal (Secular) entered into a tacit understanding with the Congress after it realised that its candidate had no chance of winning. In sum, all enemies joined hands to defeat one person.
What do you plan to do now?
As of now, nothing. I will be meeting the Chief Minister to chalk out my next course of action and do what he suggests.