Karnataka minister G T Deve Gowda on Wednesday said that his party JD(S)' workers in Mysuru and elsewhere might have voted for the BJP, underlining the unease between ruling coalition partners.
The Congress and the JDS had fought the Lok Sabha elections together, but the seat sharing understanding was marred by differences between members of the two parties which had been bitter rivals before they joined hands to form government.
"There were some differences between the two parties. Take Udbur for example. People fought like there any panchayat election.
"Those who were in Congress voted for Congress and those in JD(S) voted for the BJP. Similar things happened elsewhere too," Gowda told reporters in Mysuru.
Gowda added that if the two parties could have combined their strength, there was no scope for the BJP to win even five seats out of 28 in Karnataka.
He also pointed out that coalition should have been formalised much earlier for better coordination and results.
The statement triggered a strong reaction from the Congress, with its state president Dinesh Gundu Rao saying it was not good for the coalition government.
Expressing shock, Rao said, "I am not able to figure out how he (Gowda) had worked during the election because he has given contradictory statements. Such statements are not good for the coalition government."
"Such things would happen because those given responsibility did not work sincerely. There seems to be lack of sincerity," the Congress leader said.
He also junked Gowda's statement about delay in formalising the alliance.
"We formed the coalition much earlier. There was no delay in forming the coalition. It was announced much earlier that Mysuru will be given to Congress as per the seat sharing agreement.
"I don't know in which context Gowda spoke," Rao told reporters.
In a gleeful response, the opposition BJP said not just the JD(S) workers but the Congress leaders and workers too voted for the saffron party.
BJP MLA and former deputy chief minister R Ashok said, "G T Deve Gowda's statement is the voice of the people. It is the opinion of the workers of both the political parties.
"Not just JD(S) but Congress leaders and workers voted for BJP, especially in favour of Sumalatha Ambareesh in Mandya."
On the possibility of collapse of the coalition government, Ashok said the BJP is not making any effort but there are "unseen hands" in the coalition government, which have become active.
"Those 'unseen hands' are in the party with a symbol of 'hand'. We (BJP) will not make any efforts to topple the government. Let them do it (toppling the government)," he said.
As his remarks set off a controversy, Gowda said that he was referring to just Udbur in Mysuru Lok Sabha constituency and not everywhere.
He exuded confidence about the victory of Congress candidate C H VijayShankar, the coalition nominee in Mysuru.
Much to the dismay of candidates and top rank leaders, members belonging to the Congress and the JD(S) have fought against each other defying the diktat of their high command.
In Mandya where Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy's son and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda's grandson Nikhil Kumaraswamy has contested, some Congress and JD(S) workers are reported to have worked in favour of independent candidate Sumalatha, an actress and widow of popular Kannada film actor-turned-politician, Ambareesh.
Sumalatha got the backing of BJP which did not field any candidate.
H D Deve Gowda's another grandson Prajwal Revanna, son of PWD minister H D Revanna, too faced a similar challenge in Hassan from where he was in a direct fight against the BJP's A Manju.
According to JD(S) sources, in Tumakuru too, Deve Gowda had to face a similar rebellion of Congress workers.
As a tit-for-tat, JD(S) workers openly defied working for the Congress in Mysuru and announced in the presence of G T Deve Gowda that they would vote for the BJP rather than Vijay Shankar.
Meanwhile, BJP leader S M Krishna, a former Congress leader, who was Karnataka chief minister, claimed Wednesday that a major change was in the offing in the state after the Lok Sabha elections.