Tussle over the Tumkur Lok Sabha seat continued Wednesday as Congress MP SP Muddahanumegowda refused to budge from his decision to contest the upcoming election.
Congress leaders have been trying to convince Muddahanumegowda to withdraw his nomination. The Tumkur seat has been conceded to the JD(S) as part of the seat-sharing arrangement. Muddahanumegowda, however, is hurt that all other seats having incumbent party MPs have been retained by the party, except Tumkur. JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda is contesting from Tumkur.
“I was disowned during election time and it’s a painful matter. Party leaders have tried talking to me, but I haven’t said I will withdraw my nomination. There’s pressure from my constituents to contest and they’ve assured me that I will win,” Muddahanumegowda told a local news channel.
“There’s time till 3 pm on Friday for them to announce me as the common candidate of the alliance. Otherwise, I have anyway filed two sets of nomination - one as a Congress candidate and another as an Independent,” he said.
According to sources, Congress leaders are finding it difficult to establish communication with Muddahanumegowda. However, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara told reporters in Tumakuru: “Muddahanumegowda has responded favourably. I have confidence in him. I have spoken to him earlier. Siddaramaiah has also spoken to him.”
Muddahanumegowda’s supporter, former legislator K N Rajanna has also filed his nomination papers as an Independent. He has said he will withdraw from the fray only if Muddahanumegowda also withdrew.
If Muddahanumegowda goes ahead with his candidature, Tumkur could become a tough seat for Deve Gowda to win, according to sources in the Congress. “The BJP has fielded GS Basavaraju, who is a Lingayat. If the BJP had fielded a Vokkaliga, it’d have been different,” a Congress leader said.
On Tuesday, Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah said the JD(S) had sought either Mysore or Tumkur, and the party chose to retain the BJP-held Mysore where he said the Congress had a better chance at winning.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara held a meeting of Congress and JD(S) leaders in Tumakuru on Wednesday. Speaking to reporters later, he said that a joint meeting of the workers of both the parties would be held on April 1. Congress-JD(S) coalition candidate H D Deve Gowda will hold first phase of campaign on April 4 and 5, he said.