Bengaluru: A day after the Congress party ‘finalised’ its seat sharing formula with the coalition partner JD(S), Deputy Chief Minister Dr G. Parameshwar said that he has requested the JD(S) to return the Tumakuru seat to the Congress if former PM H.D. Deve Gowda decides not to contest from the constituency.
Despite repeated assertions by none other than Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader, Siddaramaiah that the party would not allow its coalition partner JD(S) to lay claim to seats held by its MPs, Congress central leaders have given up Tumkuru, which happens to be the home district of Deputy CM Dr Parameshwar.
This has led to discontent within the Congress' local leadership. Dr Parameshwar, who held a series of meetings with Congress and JD(S) leaders, said that his party was fine with it if the JD(S) fields Mr Gowda from Tumakuru. "The seat is held by the Congress party's S. P. Muddahanumegowda. In principle, during our screening committee meeting, we had made a resolution that all 10 sitting MPs would get tickets. After that, during meetings between Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and JD(S) supremo Deve Gowda, Tumakuru was given to them," Dr Parameshwar elaborated while speaking to reporters.
He added that he had met Mr Gowda and conveyed his request that the seat be given back to the Congress as it would not be right to deny a ticket to sitting MP when all others were being renominated. “Even on Friday morning, I requested Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy to leave the seat for us. Mr Kumaraswamy too said he will discuss it with his party leaders,” he said. The Dy CM added that if need be, he will meet the party high command too.
Later after meeting senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, Dr Parameshwar reiterated the same view. "Our request is that in case he (Deve Gowda) does not contest, give the seat to us," he said.
According to JD(S) sources, the party bagged Tumakuru, dominated by the Vokkaliga community, after a hard bargain as the Congress had decided not to cede seats currently held by it. There is simmering discontent within the Congress Tumakuru unit over the decision, with former legislator K. N. Rajanna reportedly threatening to contest as an independent if the party fails to renegotiate.
Meanwhile, Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah told reporters that he will speak to party president Rahul Gandhi and general secretary K. C. Venugopal on the issue.
Mr Muddahanumegowda said that he had also sought the seat for the Congress. "If Mr Deve Gowda contests, there is no issue; it will be a matter of pride for us. Else, give it to me," he said.
Mr Deve Gowda has not yet announced his seat—it could be Tumakuru, Bengaluru North or Mysuru if the Congress gives up the constituency in lieu of Tumakuru....