Outgoing Congress MP S.P. Muddhanumegowda withdrew his nomination from the Tumkur constituency, where Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda is the joint candidate of the ruling allies in Karnataka, said a party official on Friday.
"On the party high command's directive, our sitting MP Muddhanumegowda has withdrawn his nomination from the Tumkur Parliamentary seat and agreed to campaign for Gowda who is our joint official candidate," Congress spokesman Ravi Gowda told IANS here.
The 'rebel' lawmaker withdrew from the contest on the last date of withdrawal of nominations for the first phase of polling in 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.
The first phase of polling is on April 18. The remaining 14 seats will go to the polls in the second phase on April 23. The votes will be counted on May 23.
Defying the party's diktat, Muddhanumegowda filed his nomination on March 25 as thousands of his supporters and party cadres wanted him to re-contest despite the Congress gifting the seat to the JD-S as part of their pre-poll tie-up.
The Congress is contesting 21 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats from the state, leaving 7 to the JD-S. Though the Congress has re-nominated 8 of its 9 MPs, its denial of a ticket to Muddhanumgowda triggered a revolt in the party's Tumkur unit.
"Muddahaunmegowda reconciled to withdraw after our party president Rahul Gandhi called him up and asked him to respect the coalition 'dharma' with the JD-S and support Gowda to retain the seat," the official said.
Since both Muddahanumegowda and Deve Gowda belong to the powerful Vokkaliga community, Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara and Congress state President Dinesh Gundu Rao persuaded the former to withdraw from the contest and prevent a vertical split of the votes.
Tumkur has become a prestige battle for the ruling allies after 85-year-old Deve Gowda gave up his bastion Hassan to contest from there. Deve Gowda represented Hassan for a record six times since 1991.
The former prime minister's shift to Tumkur paves the way for his grandson Prajwal Revanna to contest in the JD-S pocket borough. Prajwal is the son of Deve Gowda's second son and state PWD Minister H.D. Revanna. Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy is his third son.
"In the interest of the party and coalition dharma (justice), I have withdrawn from the contest and decided to campaign for Gowda as he is our common candidate," Muddhanumegowda later told reporters in Tumkur.
The BJP has fielded G.S Basavaraju, a Lingayat, who lost to Muddahanumegowda in the 2014 general elections.
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