Bengaluru: Vittal Katakadonda was busy organising rallies for the BJP till some time ago. As Bijapura district BJP president, he was in charge of the party in the entire district, including what he presumed would be his own seat. After the BJP announced its list of candidates, he continued the campaigning. The difference was that he was campaigning for the Congress against BJP.
After the saffron party denied him nomination from Nagathana SC reserved seat at the last minute, an angry Katakadonda defected to the Congress securing the ruling party’s nomination. His friends turned enemies and enemies became friends.
Former BJP MLA M Y Patil, from neighbouring Gulbarga district, was a diehard BJP man. He had even started the campaign months ago. After the party chose the sitting Congress MLA Malikaiah Guttedar over him, Patil crossed over to the Congress securing the “hand” as his election symbol.
Former MLA B Prasanna Kumar was campaigning for the Congress hoping re-nomination from Pulikeshinagara Assembly seat in Bengaluru. After Chief Minister Siddaramaiah picked sitting JDS MLA Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy over him, Kumar secured the JDS ticket from the same seat.
These are not rare cases. There are about 60 such candidates in the fray in the Karnataka Assembly elections. Sworn enemies have become friends and opposition cadres have become partymen.
Perhaps for the first time in many years, Karnataka is witnessing this kind of political “turnover”. The ruling Congress alone has fielded 18 defectors from the BJP and the JDS. Some of them have joined a few months ago and others jumped ship just one or two days before the nomination process, earning the title “instant candidates”.
The main opposition BJP has also welcomed 20 such “instant candidates”, some even after the nomination process began. Former deputy speaker of the Assembly and veteran Congress MLA N Y Gopalakrishna who was shouting “Congress Jindabad” slogans till April is now contesting on the “lotus” symbol from Kudligi in Bellary district.
The third player JDS, which is moving earth and heaven, to ensure a hung Assembly has given tickets to 22 such defectors. Some have joined them just a day or two before the nominations were closed.
The Congress has fielded eight JDS MLAs, it has also fielded five BJP men. The BJP has given tickets to five JDS and seven Congress leaders, including sitting MLAs.
The JDS which always scouts for the “rejects” from the Congress and the BJP has fielded 12 Congressmen on its ticket and has also nominated 10 BJP faces.
These last minute switches have added to the confusion and even the most experienced political analysts are finding it difficult to gauge the mood of the voters. “Even if half of them win, it can change the composition of the entire Assembly. These candidates actually decide the fate of the next Assembly. They are untested. Just because they won many times on a particular party symbol, there is no guarantee that they will win this time too,” said R Bharatadri, a veteran political analyst.
Since the election is a do or die battle for all three major parties, throwing ideologies and policies to the wind, they have embraced turncoats just to win. If this experiment clicks, one can expect their numbers to go up in the coming elections.
A senior leader of the Congress said, “Aaya Ram, Gaya Rams are perfectly acceptable as long as they win. Like every vote counts, every seat counts too.”