Cong leaders, workers in doldrums in Mandya dist

Who will fill the void left by Krishna in sugarbowl of Karnataka?

With the resignation of former chief minister S M Krishna from the Congress, the leaders and workers of the party in Mandya district are a confused lot. The anti-Ambareesh camp of the party has been orphaned while M H Ambareesh himself has been rendered irrelevant with his dropping from the state Cabinet in June last. It is an advantage for the Janata Dal (Secular), which is already strong in the district. So, the Congress badly needs a leader in Mandya district.

Krishna’s entry into electoral politics in 1962 was with a bang. He defeated the then state Congress president H K Veeranna Gowda, who was projected as the chief ministerial candidate  Now, after enjoying plum posts for over five decades 55 years, his exit from the Congress has stirred the hornet’s nest.

Krishna has indirectly ridiculed Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Most of the old Congressmen in Siddaramaiah’s Cabinet, including KPCC president Dr G Parameshwara and Energy Minister D K Shivakumar, were his followers. Hence, the future of many leaders, who looked up to him for guidance, especially in Mandya district, is now in doldrums.

In Mandya district, out of seven Assembly constituencies, Congress holds just two - Mandya and Malavalli while the JD(S) has Srirangapatna, KR Pet, Maddur and Nagamangala constituencies in its kitty. Melkote constituency is represented by K S Puttannaiah of Karnataka Sarvodaya Party (KSP). C S Puttaraju of JD(S) is the MP of Mandya, which also includes K R Nagar taluk of Mysuru. All three MLCs from Mandya district  - Appajigowda of the JD(S), Marithibbegowda and K T Srikantegowda - are also JD(S) nominees.

It was said that Ambareesh, who represents Mandya Assembly constituency, wanted all the MLAs in the district to be from the JD(S), where he has several personal friends, as he wanted to be a minister from the district without any competition. It is a well-known fact that Ambareesh is very close to D C Thammanna of Maddur, Ramesh Bandisiddegowda of Srirangapatna and C S Puttaraju of Melkote.

As the Congress workers in Melkote supported K S Puttanaiah of the KSP instead of the scapegoat, L D Ravi, Puttaraju was defeated. However, he was successful in fielding an ineffective S L Lingaraju in Srirangapatna from the Congress, which resulted in the rebellion of Ravindra Srikantaiah, who contested as an Independent. In Maddur, G M Madhu, ex-MP G Madegowda’s son, a Congress nominee, was neglected by party workers at the behest of Ambareesh. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls also, it is suspected that Ambareesh played a major role in the election of his confidante Puttaraju of the JD(S) against actor Ramya, who had sought re-election on a Congress ticket.

After becoming minister, the power was concentrated in the hands of one Chandrasekhar, a hotelier. All other party leaders and workers were neglected in the district. As of now, Ambareesh seems to have forgotten Mandya and the voters have forgotten him. However, his victory in the next Assembly election cannot be ruled out, given his charisma as an actor, a ‘Rebel Star’.

Thus, the Congress leaders and workers, except Ambareesh, Chandrasekhar and their supporters, united using the name of Krishna, as a shield against Ambareesh. Interestingly, most of them, including former minister M S Atmananda, were earlier identified in the Madegowda faction, when Krishna held power. Since the 1960s, Madegowda was deemed as the bete noire of Krishna, even though they were in the Congress and belonged to the same taluk - Maddur.

Now, the anti-Ambareesh faction has become helpless. So, there is a scope for the emergence of a leader who can fill confidence among members of both the factions and lead the Congress. However, there is no such leader in sight, at least for now. While Ravindra Srikantaiah, a KPCC member, who shot to fame by opposing Ambareesh in the 2013 Assembly polls, immediately announced his decision to follow Krishna, ex-MLC D Madegowda in Mysuru also announced his resignation to the Congress. Many more office-bearers of the party in both Mandya and Mysuru district have resigned.

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