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In Chamundeshwari—which can be viewed as a microcosm of the impact Vokkaligas had on Congress—of the 2.2-odd lakh electors who voted, 1.21 lakh or 55% voted for GT Deve Gowda, while Siddaramaiah garnered 38% of vote share with 85,283 votes. In all, the constituency had an estimated 1.3 lakh Vokkaliga voters.
Experts estimated that there were at least 45 seats where the Vokkaliga community could play a key role, and the JD(S) has managed to win more than 20 of these, where the community was decisive.
JD (S), riding on Vokkaliga backing swept Mandya winning all six seats. It didn’t even spare the Melkote segment, where Congress didn’t field anybody as a sign of respect to veteran politician Puttannaiah, who passed away earlier this year. While Congress extended its support to Puttannaiah’s son Darshan, JD(S) decided to field a sitting MP CS Puttaraju, a strong Vokkaliga who won.
GT Deve Gowda, analysing Congress’ performance said: “Siddaramaiah is not somebody we dislike, but his remarks about Deve Gowda in the run-up to the elections angered the community, which consolidated against him, not just in Hassan and Mandya, but in other districts of the belt too.”
In Hassan, considered the backyard of JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda’s family, the party bagged six of seven seats, improving its tally by one from 2013 with Gowda’s son HD Revanna also winning with a huge margin. The party, however, is said to have given away the Hassan seat to BJP, whose Preetham J Gowda, won with more than 10,000.
The community has also managed to dent Congress’ chances in many segments in Kolar, where it won three seats, Tumakuru, where it won six of 11 seats, and also in Mysuru and Chamarajanagar.
Political analyst Krishna Kumar, says: “One key factor was appointing Kempaiah as the home minister’s advisor and the subsequent feeling among Vokkaliga officers that they are being retributed. The community did not take lightly what they perceived was a ploy to make the Kuruba community stronger.”