DVS ouster erodes Vokkaligas' goodwill for saffron party

His popularity unsettled Gowda community leaders in party

DVS ouster erodes Vokkaligas' goodwill for saffron party

The widespread protests by the Vokkaliga community, against the removal of D V Sadananda Gowda as chief minister, go to show that the goodwill created for the BJP among the community after Gowda became chief minister has been wiped out.

The party, which had all along failed to get the support of the Vokkaligas, had hoped to win them over after Gowda became chief minister. Vokkaligas form the second largest community in the State, next only to the Lingayats.

During his 11-month tenure, Gowda made efforts to woo the community leaders, especially religious heads.

He took part in all functions of the community. Many BJP leaders, who claimed to be the Vokkaliga face in the party, turned jittery with Gowda emerging a Vokkaliga leader. He even shared the dais with JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy at a public function of the Vokkaligas in Puttur.

His eagerness to identify himself with his community proved costly for Gowda. His detractors led by former chief minister Yeddyurappa alleged that he was getting cosy with JD(S), which claims to champion the cause of the community.

The JD(S) leaders, who were eagerly waiting to create trouble in the BJP, openly issued statements in favour of Gowda.

Meanwhile, Vokkaliga leaders of the BJP indirectly supported Yeddyurappa in his effort to oust Gowda.

BJP insiders said one of the Vokkaliga leaders in the party actively lobbied with the high command to remove Gowda, so that he could occupy a key position in the government.

When Gowda’s removal became imminent, the party insiders said, the party’s Vokkaliga leaders instigated a section of the community to stage a protest against the BJP high command’s decision.

The plan was to send across a message that the community was unhappy with the move and that the party had to give a key position to a Vokkaliga to assuage the feelings of the community.

Sources said, the strategy boomeranged when the angry protesters, including religious heads, targeted the party and its Vokkaliga leaders. They publicly alleged that R Ashoka conspired to oust Gowda.

Minister Shobha Karandlaje, a Vokkaliga from Puttur like Sadananda Gowda, came under attack by the agitators for not standing up for her community leader.

The fact remains that both never got along as party colleagues, as Yeddyurappa chose Gowda over Shobha to be the chief minister.

The Vokkaliga backlash isolated Ashoka in his own party. Many of his supporters, especially MLAs from Bangalore, are learnt to have distanced themselves from him.

He is understood to have now re-joined the Yeddyurappa camp, hoping that the former chief minister would make him deputy chief minister to ensure caste balance in the government.

The developments, sources said, has benefited the JD(S) and helped it to consolidate its position among the community members.

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