In the Lok Sabha results that were announced on 23 May, the BJP trounced the Congress-JD(S) alliance in the state, reducing their seat share to only two, down from 11 in the 2014 general elections.
The lone seat for the JD(S) was bagged by Prajwal Revanna, grandson of party chief HD Deve Gowda who had generously acceded his seat to Prajwal before the election, in the hopes that the Hassan electorate would not betray the party.
While Prajwal managed to win by a margin of over 1 lakh votes, in a surprise move, the sole JD(S) elect offered to give up the Hassan seat in favour of his grandfather, “to reinstate confidence of the JD(S) cadre.”
“To reinstate confidence of the JD(S) cadre, we have to fill the gap left by the defeat of HD Devegowda, therefore, I’ve decided to tender my resignation. I want him to be victorious once again from Hassan.”Prajwal Revanna, grandson of Deve Gowda
‘Feel Like I have Lost in Spite of Winning’: Prajwal
Adding that his move was not meant to disrespect any party workers or any of the people who voted for him, the 28-year-old said that he was still young and could fight.
“I will take this step with the blessings of elders and party leaders. I feel like I have lost in spite of winning. We all need to support Deve Gowda, our leader, and I request the support of workers of both parties,” he said in a press conference.
After giving up his seat to his grandson, Deve Gowda contested from Tumkur, where the 86-year-old lost to the BJP’s GS Basavaraj by a margin of 13,339 votes. The loss came as a shock defeat to the JD(S), who had expected Deve Gowda to ride home victorious.
The JD(S) supremo had been elected from the Tumkur seat once before, but failed to win the faith of the electorate this time. His other grandson, Nikhil Kumaraswamy, who was in a head-to-head fight with independent candidate Sumalatha, suffered a humiliating loss by a margin of 1,25,876 votes in Mandya.
So, what are the reasons behind the JD(S)‘s downward spiral?
After giving up the sure-shot Hassan ticket, Deve Gowda believed his political legacy and command over the Vokkaliga votes would be enough to win Tumkur. However, the force exerted by the JD(S) to field their party chief from the constituency, did not go down well with the incumbent Congress MP S P Muddhanume Gowda and local Congress leaders.
This disagreement between the sentiments of the grassroots party workers and party leaders, meant there wasn’t a transfer of votes between the coalition partners. Rather, it would appear as though being the ‘outsider from Hassan’ worked against the JD(S) patriarch.
In Mandya, Nikhil Kumaraswamy also suffered a loss. Despite being denied a ticket by the Congress, Sumalatha became the first Independent woman candidate to become an MP in Karnataka.
Raking in votes from key Assembly constituencies in Mandya, Sumalatha had the resounding support of even the Congress cadre on the ground. Congress workers in the region have previously been vocal about their support for the wife of beloved former MP Ambareesh, who passed away last November.
Thus, the bickering between the coalition partners, the inability to effect a transfer of votes and disconnect with the grassroots level workers sounded the death knell for the JD(S)‘s prospects this time.
Is This the End of Deve Gowda’s Political Innings?
Many people believe that in defeating the JD(S) patriarch, BJP’s Basavaraj has signalled the end to Deve Gowda’s political career. The 86-year-old fell prey to the poor idea of a change in constituency only to be defeated at the fag-end of an illustrious 50-year-career.
But Deve Gowda was himself looking at retirement from active politics – the 2019 general elections were to be his last. As a JD(S) party worker said yesterday,”He has been forced into premature retirement”.
So, what does this mean for the future of the Gowda dynasty in Karnataka? CM Kumaraswamy has a decision on his hands: will he tender his resignation acceding a moral loss to the BJP or will the party have to forge strategic ties with a new ally, the BJP, to stay relevant in Karnataka?