With former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda eyeing 12 of the 28 seats in the state for JD(S) in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, sitting Congress Lok Sabha MPs are fighting to retain their seats.
All ten MPs of the Congress, in a bid to save their seats from going to the JD(S), met UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi earlier this week and intend to put pressure on All India Congress Committee (AICC) president Rahul Gandhi.
Fully aware that Gowda is directly exerting pressure on the Congress central leadership bypassing discussions with the state leaders over seat sharing, the party MPs too approached the high command directly.
The keenness of the MPs to hang on to their seats is also being backed by state unit of the Congress.
“Our nine MPs fought against the Modi wave in 2014 to win their seats. It is natural for them to expect the party to retain them in their constituencies. They have insisted that all nine constituencies held by them be retained with the party,” said KPCC working president Eshwar Khandre.
While reiterating that negotiations for seat sharing are yet to begin, Khandre added that candidates with the best chance of winning will be considered, irrespective of whether they are from Congress or JD(S).
“While no definite assurance has been given by the high command, Rahul Gandhi has promised to keep their best interests in mind,” said a Congress party source.
While the MPs maintained that meeting Sonia was a common practice during their stay in New Delhi for the session, one MP, on the condition of anonymity, claimed that the worry, especially for MPs from Old Mysuru region, was real. “In seats where the fight was directly between us and JD(S), our MPs beat both the JD(S) and Modi wave. That effort should not go for a waste,” said a Lok Sabha member. He, however, insisted that MPs were all for the alliance since it works the best against BJP. The only concern was losing their incumbent seats.
The JD(S), which currently has two MPs from Karnataka including Deve Gowda, is looking to get 10-12 seats from Congress in case of an alliance for the Lok Sabha polls.The party, which is South-Karnataka-heavy, is also hoping to field its candidates in Tumakuru, Chikkaballapur, Bengaluru Rural, Kolar, which currently have MPs from Congress. “There is nothing wrong in MPs putting across their views. We will see how things go forward. We have neither discussed seat sharing nor replacing sitting MPs yet,” said KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao.