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‘We Feel Cheated’: In Gowda Backyard Hassan, Loyalists on Sticky Wicket After JDS-BJP Tie-Up| Ground Report – News18

Sipping a cup of tea, a group of men was sitting by the auto stand in former prime minister and JDS supremo Deve Gowda’s backyard, Hassan’s Holenarsipura, discussing local politics. When asked how they felt about the recent JDS-BJP tie-up for the upcoming 2024 general elections, some looked surprised while a couple of others suppressed a grin.

On the ground in Hassan, the fiefdom of the Deve Gowda family, people are still confused about the decision of the JDS to join hands with BJP. In fact, some of them are in denial of the fact that the Gowda family may have, in reality, aligned with the BJP to contest the Lok Sabha elections.

“The decision is with Dodda Gowdru (referring to Deve Gowda) to finalise it. He has not said that in as many words to us. Talks are ongoing, we know. But we also know that our Dodda Gowdru will not join with the BJP. That much trust we have in him. In politics, party leaders speak to each other, but they will not do such a thing. Deve Gowda or Kumaraswamy or Revanna will not go with the BJP,” said Ramdas, a resident and auto driver in Holenarsipura.

“If the JDS wants to join hands with the BJP, what can we do? It is their decision based on the political situation and the need for survival, as the party needs support at this time. People have been made scapegoats as they expect us to vote for them and then form a coalition with another party. We feel cheated,” said Manjunath Gowda, whose family has been staunch supporters of the Gowda family for generations.

Hassan is known to be the fortress of the Deve Gowda family. Holenarsipura is an assembly seat that Deve Gowda won six times between 1962 and 1985. His elder son, HD Revanna, who presently represents the seat, has equalled the same number of terms for which his father has been elected from the seat. Senior Gowda’s grandson Suraj Revanna is an MLC from Hassan, and his other grandson Prajwal Revanna is the sitting MP from the Hasan Lok Sabha constituency.

Another member of this tea party, Santosh, felt that the JDS had no other choice but to join hands with the BJP for the sake of the party’s future.

“The party has not been able to win a large number of seats in the past few elections. Kumaraswamy and Deve Gowda have understood that the BJP, if they put their mind to it, can swing considerable support in their favour. They have taken a decision to keep JDS alive. However, I do agree they should have asked the people their opinion before making that decision, just like they do when they seek our support,” said Rakshit Gowda, a local merchant from Holenarsipura.

For the struggling JDS, which had one of its worst electoral performances in the recent assembly polls, teaming up with BJP for 2024 is seen as a lifeline for survival. It also indicates that both parties, after their performance in the assembly polls, have recognised their weak points in seats, especially in the Old Mysore region.

Subhashini’s husband had worked with the JDS in the Zilla Parishad but of late, dejected, they shifted their support to the Congress. Yet they continue to believe that Deve Gowda has done a lot for the JDS and Hassan, but not his sons or grandsons.

“Deve Gowda has kept his promises and helped us. But his sons and grandsons did not. We were fed up, and so we now support the Congress. If Deve Gowda stands from Hasan in the Lok Sabha, it will be good,” she said.

The JDS has been struggling to keep itself afloat after experimenting with a coalition with both the BJP and the Congress. But the BJP also has realised that just relying on ‘Modi Magic’ will not ensure a win in the parliamentary polls. They can expect better results by teaming up with the JDS, especially in southern Karnataka.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won 25 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats. With the combined strength of the JDS, the BJP hopes to use the popularity of Modi, especially among the Vokkaligas, to get a winning combination.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the JDS joined forces with the Congress. They decided to contest in a 7:21 ratio for the state’s 28 seats. Despite their efforts, they faced tough competition from the Modi wave, and the BJP ended up winning 25 seats. The two allies, on the other hand, could only secure one seat each.

At Prajwal Revanna’s residence in Holenarsipura, a tall poster of the leader welcomes people to the home. But the JDS leader recently faced a major hurdle as his role as the MP of the Hassan parliamentary seat was declared null and void by the Karnataka High Court. The court observed that during the April-May 2019 elections, Prajwal had indulged in a series of corrupt practices.

Though the Supreme Court has granted a stay, it has definitely impacted the JDS’ politics in the region. BJP’s former MLA Preetham Gowda, who famously defeated the JDS in Hassan, their stronghold, told News18 that the reason why Kumaraswamy reached out to the BJP was because of the jolt the JDS faced in the Old Mysore region, mainly from Hassan.

“The BJP is as powerful as the JDS in the Old Mysore region. The JDS may need some of our force to establish themselves in the Old Mysore region, and probably we would need some help from them. I am not denying that fact. At this juncture, JDS needs BJP because it is no longer their bastion,” he added.

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