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    Gowda breathes easy as Cong rebel candidate pulls out of a contest

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    Gowda breathes easy as Cong rebel candidate pulls out of a contest
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    Bengaluru: In a big relief to JDS patriarch and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, Congress sitting MP from Tumkur S P Muddahanumegowda Friday pulled out of the contest as the rebel candidate against him.

    Gowda is the joint nominee of Karnataka's Congress-JDS ruling alliance, which was worried over his electoral prospects after Muddahanumegowda jumped into the fray defying the understanding under which the seat was allotted to the JDS.

    "Angry" at being denied the ticket, Muddahanumegowda had filed his papers both as party candidate and as an independent but finally yielded to persuasion from the party leadership.

    The leadership made several attempts to pacify Muddahanumegowda, with Congress president Rahul Gandhi and AICC general secretary K C Venugopal intervening finally.

    Muddahanumegowda told PTI that he has withdrawn his nomination, respecting the "persuasion" made by the Congress high command.

    "Rahul Gandhi himself spoke to me (Thursday morning), K C Venugopal spoke to me several times, also our KPCC president, deputy chief minister and also CLP leader Siddaramaiah started persuading me and said the coalition is at stakebecause of my nomination as rebel," he said.

    "Though my people did not agree for withdrawing nomination, somehow I had to, as I didn't want to become reasonfor anything going wrong between two parties," he added.

    Muddahanumegowda said he was "angry" and "furious" for the reason that the sitting MP was deprived of contesting election.

    He said he had filed the nomination as constituency leaders and workers insisted on his contesting, after his request to coalition leaders to reconsider the decision and field him, did not yield result.

    The Congress leader said he had gone through "agony and mental torture" after being denied ticket despite being "active and performing member."

    Asked about campaigning for Gowda, he said, "I'm a sensitive politician..I will think over..I will need some time."

    Muddahanumegowda, who had worked as a judicial officer in the past is the only member among ten sitting Congress MPs from the state denied ticket, citing coalition compulsions.

    Earlier in the day, Deputy Chief Minister GParameshwara and KPCC chief Dinesh Gundu Rao visited Muddahanumegowda's residence in the city to persuade him, as Friday was the last day to withdraw nomination.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Rao said the party has respect for Muddahanumegowda and conceded that "injustice" has happened to him, as he blamed coalition compulsions for it.

    "It is the responsibility of the party to treat him respectfully," he added.

    Meanwhile, K N Rajanna, another Congress leader and former MLA who also had filed his nomination from Tumkur as anindependent candidate, upset over his party's decision to cede the seat to JD(S), has also withdrawn his nomination.

    Stating that he was with Muddahanumegowda, Rajanna told reporters he will abide by the party's decision.

    The JD(S) bagged Tumkur seat after a hard bargain withthe Congress as the grand old party did not concede Mysore, another seat that it had demanded, due to strong resentment from Siddaramaiah, as it is his home turf.

    Mysore and Tumkur both come under old Mysuru region where Vokkaliga community, seen as a strong vote bank of JD(S) is dominant.

    The Congress too has considerable presence there.

    Gowda opted for Tumkur seat over Bangalore North, another option that was available before him, after giving up Hassan Lok Sabha seat that he had been representing, tograndson Prajwal Revanna.

    If Muddahanumegowda had contested from Tumkur as a rebel candidate, it would have added to the Congress-JD(S) coalition worries as the alliance is facing backlash at several places, including Mandya and Hassan, with party workersunhappy with the seat arrangements.

    For the coalition to emerge as a formidable opposition to BJP and win more number of seats, it is crucial for the Congress to transfer its votes to JD(S), and vice-versa.

    The BJP has fielded G S Basavaraj as its candidate from Tumkur which will go to polls in the first phase on April 18.

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