Congress leader Siddaramaiah at an election rally | File photo

BJP, JD(S) on joint mission in Varuna to defeat Siddaramaiah?

If rumours are to be believed, some JD(S) leaders are sending messages to Vokkaliga community to vote for BJP

The Varuna Assembly constituency is being watched very keenly in Karnataka as former state Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is locked in a three-cornered contest there. The Congress candidate and frontrunner to the CM’s post, Siddaramaiah, is facing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal (Secular) candidates who are leaving no stone unturned to defeat him.

Siddaramaiah is considered to be a ‘prize catch’ for both the BJP and JD(S) if they manage to defeat him in the election. If rumours in the constituency are to be believed, the JD(S) is indirectly supporting the BJP candidate to hand Siddaramaiah a defeat. Some JD(S) leaders are said to be sending messages to the Vokkaliga community to vote for the BJP, instead of JD(S).

Also read: Why Varuna appears to be rooting for ‘atheist’ Siddaramaiah

JD(S) and Siddaramaiah have an old rivalry — Siddaramaiah was expelled from the JD(S) after differences with H D Deve Gowda in 2005 and he later joined the Congress.

BJP campaign

The BJP has fielded a formidable contestant in Varuna, former minister and Lingayat leader V Somanna. With nearly 70,000 Lingayat voters in Varuna, Somanna is giving Siddaramaiah a tough contest. The BJP heavyweights, too, are putting all efforts to make it tougher for Siddaramaiah. Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other BJP senior leaders held a rally in Varuna, asking voters why they are supporting a person who is talking about retirement from politics.

Varuna is considered to be the home constituency of Siddaramaiah, who enjoys the support of Ahinda (Muslims, Backward class and Dalits) group. To defeat Siddaramaiah, the BJP will have to divide the SC/ST or OBC votes, says Ranjan U, a family friend of former CM’s younger son Yathindra Siddaramaiah.

To woo the Lingayat community, Yathindra also held a meeting of Lingayat leaders in a private welfare hall in Mysore.

Bid to divide votes

The JD(S) has fielded Dr Bharati Shankar, who belongs to the Dalit community. If he manages to divide Dalit votes, then it will make things difficult for Siddaramaiah. Shankar’s candidature has also sparked rumours that there is an understanding among the BJP and JD(S) to defeat Siddaramaiah.

To counter this, Siddaramaiah’s team had held several meetings with the Lingayat and Dalit community leaders separately.

It’s not that the BJP’s Somanna is finding the going smooth. Apart from facing an uphill task of standing up to Siddaramaiah, internal tussles in BJP are making it difficult for him. There are rumours in political circles that former BJP CM BS Yediyurappa — who had rejected the offer of the BJP high command to field his son Vijayendra from Varuna — wants Somanna’s defeat and his ‘friend’ Siddaramaiah’s win and is sending indirect messages to Lingayat voters to this effect. BSY and Somanna are not said to be on good terms.

Amit Shah has tried to end the feud between BSY and Somanna and during his rally brought BSY along to woo Lingayat voters. He also got MP V Srinivasa Prasad to attend the rally. Srinivas is a Dalit leader and a friend-turned-foe of Siddaramaiah.

Amit Shah’s plan seems to be to put so much pressure on Siddaramaiah in Varuna that the Congress leader has to focus on his constituency and find it difficult to campaign for other Congress candidates in the state.

Seer’s support

The support of Sutturu Math (Lingayat Math) Seer Shivarathri Deshikendra Swamiji is also very important for any candidate in Varuna. Varuna constituency has several education institutions belonging to the Sutturu Math, which has considerable influence among voters.

Also watch: There’s a criminal govt in Karnataka, it’s my duty to dislodge it: Siddaramaiah

Sutturu seer is said to share a good rapport with Siddaramaiah and has played a major role in Siddaramaiah’s earlier wins from Varuna. But BJP candidate Somanna, a Lingayat leader, is hoping that he will get the seer blessings.

“This will play a major role in the Siddaramaiah’s election,” said Raghavendra Naik of Hullahalli village.

Siddaramaiah’s team is also not taking any chances this time and has roped in a number of film actors and actresses for campaigning. Shivraj Kumar and Duniya Vijay have already campaigned for the Congress and Ramya, a star campaigner of the party, will be in the constituency on May 4.

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