‘King vs ordinary citizen’ battle erupts in Mysore Lok Sabha constituency

PTI, Apr 12, 2024, 2:04 PM IST

In a battle involving the ‘royal’ and the ‘ordinary’, the voters of Mysuru are faced with a dilemma of choosing between BJP’s Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar and Congress’s M Lakshmana in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

While Wadiyar, the scion of the erstwhile Mysuru royal family is making his political debut from the Mysore Lok Sabha segment, Lakshmana is state Congress spokesperson and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s confidant.

It’s no secret that Siddaramaiah has chosen to focus on this constituency given the number of his visits and campaign meetings in the region.

”Voting for Lakshmana is like voting for me. His victory means my victory,” says Siddaramaiah, who represents Varuna Assembly segment in the district.

The Congress has also chosen to play the caste card, highlighting that Lakshmana is a Vokkaliga, the agrarian community that dominates the region.

”National issues do matter but we have to think locally as well,” Raju Gowda, a farmer, sitting at an ‘Ashwatha Katte’, the retaining wall around a Peepal tree, in Thaluru on the outskirts of Mysuru city, told PTI.

”It is a contest not just between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, it is also a fight between Mysuru Maharaja and Lakshmana,” he said.

The JD(S), which has considerable a vote-base in the constituency, has forged an alliance with the BJP, a move that is likely to benefit the 32-year-old Wadiyar in no small measure at the hustings on April 26.

The Mysore Lok Sabha constituency is spread over two districts of Mysuru and Kodagu.

In the 2023 Assembly election, the Congress won five seats, JD(S) two and BJP one.

The Congress — which calls this election battle as ‘Raja versus Samanya Praja’ or ‘King versus Ordinary Citizen’ — is also heavily banking on the state government’s guarantee schemes to pay rich electoral dividends.

According to political analysts, local issues will also matter in this election, including the performance of BJP MP Pratap Simha in the last 10 years and Siddaramaiah’s stock in his home district.

The US-educated Wadiyar seems to be learning the electoral politics in quick time, speaking to voters in chaste Kannada, endearing himself to many.

While Wadiyar has the solid backing of BJP and JD(S), Siddaramaiah has put his might behind Lakshmana, making it a prestigious battle for him.

Siddaramaiah held several rounds of meetings with the party office-bearers in various Assembly constituencies under the Mysore Lok Sabha segment.

”The pressure on Siddaramaiah is quite palpable as he has to demonstrate his hold among masses in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka and more so in Mysuru,” a political analyst said.

During a recent meeting with the party office-bearers, the chief minister gave ‘clear instructions’ not to use any derogatory or defamatory language against Wadiyar as it could backfire.

Siddaramaiah, Lakshamana and Deputy Chief Minister and State Congress chief D K Shivakumar are giving a vigorous push for ‘vote for Vokkaliga’ campaign.

Shivakumar, who, too is a Vokkaliga, has held meetings with the leaders of his community to galvanise support for Lakshmana.

The BJP and JD(S) are also not falling behind in wooing the community.

Earlier this week, Wadiyar and several BJP and JD(S) Lok Sabha candidates had a ‘darshan’ of Vokkaliga pontiff of the influential Adi Chunchanagiri Math, Dr Nirmalanananda Natha Swamiji.

The JD(S) second-in-command and former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, who is contesting from Mandya Lok Sabha seat, was also present along with his son Nikhil to pay their respect to the pontiff.

Wadiyar has also reached out to BJP leaders in the district. He met BJP MP Pratap Simha, who had also sought a party ticket to contest again from here and BJP MLC and estranged party leader A H Vishwanath.

Batting for ‘the Maharaja’, Vishwanath said Wadiyar should have been elected unanimously.

The BJP swept the 2019 Lok Sabha elections winning 25 out of 28 seats in Karnataka, while an independent backed by the party had also won. The Congress and the JD(S), which fought together in an alliance back then, won one seat each.

Karnataka is going to the polls in two phases. While 14 Lok Sabha segments in the southern parts of the state will vote on April 26, the remaining 14 constituencies in the northern parts will vote in the second phase on May 7.

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