Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara Friday said he has requested the JD(S) to return Tumkur seat to the Congress if former prime minister H D Deve Gowda is not contesting from the constituency.
The development comes amid simmering discontent within the Congress's local leadership over ceding of Tumkur seat to the alliance partner.
Parameshwara, who has held a series of meetings with the Congress and JD(S) leaders, however, said his party was fine if the latter fields Gowda from the seat.
The seat is held by the Congress's S P Muddahanumegowda. "We have a sitting MP. In principle, during our screening committee meeting, we had made a resolution that all the 10 sitting MPs should be given (tickets). After that, during meetings between Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and JD(S) supremo Deve Gowda, Tumkur was given to them," the deputy chief minister said.
Speaking to reporters here, Parameshwara said he had met Gowda and conveyed his request that the seat be given back to the Congress as it won't be right to deny a ticket to the Tumkur MP when all the other sitting lawmakers were getting one.
"I met Deve Gowda last night and requested him. I have also informed our leadership. Today morning I have also requested the chief minister (H D Kumaraswamy) to leave the seat for us. He (Kumaraswamy) said he will discuss (it with his party leaders)," he said.
According to a deal finalised between the coalition partners on Wednesday after much haggling, the Congress will contest 20 and the JD(S) will contest eight of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
The JD(S) will field its candidates from Uttara Kannada, Chikmagalur, Shimoga, Tumkur, Hassan, Mandya, Bangalore North and Bijapur seats.
The deputy chief minister said if need be, he will even meet the party high command on the matter.
Parameshwara, who is also the Tumkur district in-charge minister, said, "If Gowda contests, we all will work together for his victory as he is a tall leader... if he doesn't contest, give the seat to us, (that) is our request," he said, after meeting senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge.
According to JD(S) sources, the party bagged Tumkur constituency, dominated by the Vokkaliga community -- a major vote bank, after a hard bargain as the Congress had decided not to cede the seats currently held by it.
There is simmering discontent within the Congress's Tumkur unit over the decision, with former legislator K N Rajanna reportedly threatening to contest as an independent if the party fails to renegotiate.
Meanwhile, state Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah told reporters that he will speak to party president Rahul Gandhi and general secretary K C Venugopal on the issue.
Muddahanumegowda said he has also requested that the seat be given back to the Congress. "If Deve Gowda contests, there is no issue; it will be a matter of pride for us. Else, give it to me... I have made this request to Kharge, Gowda and the CM, I'm hopeful," he said.
Amid doubts about Gowda contesting polls, his constituency has not yet been finalised by JD(S).
Reports suggest that he may contest either from Tumkur or Bangalore North.