Intensifying their verbal duel as the bypolls to the Assembly come closer, former Chief Ministers and political foes Siddaramaiah and H.D. Kumaraswamy continued trading barbs on Sunday.

Mr. Siddaramaiah, who had said that the Janata Dal (S) would not get votes in Sindgi, a seat that the party held, told reporters that the regional party had lost popularity in Mandya. “If the party considers itself strong, why did it lose the Mandya seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls? It has become weak.”

Even as he claimed that he had not started the war of words, Mr. Siddaramaiah said, “I do not want to speak about the JD(S). I have stopped speaking about H.D. Kumaraswamy and H.D. Deve Gowda. Let them criticise [me]. I have ignored their statements.”

Responding sharply to this, Mr. Kumaraswamy said, “It seems Siddaramaiah will not get sleep if he does not criticise the JD(S). He is criticising the party that has given him political life.”

In a series of tweets, he said, “My sympathies are with those daydreaming. He chants our name by stating he would not do so. It is a political necessity for him to criticise us for his survival. He has no alternative and no one respects him in the Congress, while the BJP does not care about him.”

On the Mandya elections, he said, “It was a conspiracy hatched by the Congress and the party backstabbed us despite being a ruling coalition partner. It was a managed election by the Congress, BJP, Raitha Sangha, and some media outlets. Considering that loss as the party [JD(S)] becoming weak in Mandya is foolish. Like how Abhimanyu was stuck in the Chakravyuha in Mahabharatha, Nikhil (JD-S candidate in Mandya) was also stuck.”

Referring to Mr. Siddaramaiah’s statement on Sindgi voters, the JD(S) leader asked, “Are the voters of Sindgi in his pocket? It is an arrogant statement and an insult to the voters of Sindgi. Now they [the Congress] are making a wasted attempt to gain sympathy over M.C. Manuguli’s death. It is a drama.”