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After Expulsion of Rebel MLAs, Will Congress-JD(S) Part Ways or Continue as United Opposition?

File photo of JD(S) leader and former Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

File photo of JD(S) leader and former Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

With local body elections set to be fought separately, the JD(S) and Congress have begun focusing on rebuilding their parties at the local levels. The parties are also looking at bypolls that are inevitable in the 17 seats afters the MLAs' disqualification.

Bengaluru: Days after their MLAs were disqualified by the Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, both the Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) expelled all its ‘rebel’ legislators from their respective parties.

While the JD(S) on Wednesday announced the expulsion of K Gopalaiah, H Vishwanath and Narayana Gowda for anti-party activities, the Congress sent out a statement on Tuesday evening saying the All India Congress Committee (AICC) had approved the Karnataka unit’s proposal to expel its errant MLAs.

These include 14 names — Mahesh Kummatalli, Srimanth Patil, Ramesh Jharkiholi, Prathapgouda Patil, Shivaram Hebbar, BC Patil, Anand Singh, K Sudhakar, BA Basavaraj, ST Somashekar, Munirathna, Roshan Baig, MTB Nagaraj and R Shankar.

However, Shankar was never a Congress party member to begin with. He won the Assembly election last year from the Ranebennur seat on a ticket of the Karnataka Pragnavanthara Janata Paksha (KPJP). He was the lone MLA from the party and had merged it with the Congress only in June. Soon after, he was 'rewarded' with a Cabinet berth and made minister for municipal administration.

Two weeks later, he withdrew support to the Congress-JD(S) coalition government, headed by HD Kumaraswamy, and was in Mumbai when the trust vote took place in the Assembly last Tuesday.

While both parties have declared that they will never take these betrayers back into their fold, they have also now gone the extra step by expelling them.

There is already a question mark on whether the coalition arrangement should be continued. However, both parties have decided to present themselves as a united Opposition in the Assembly.

With local body elections, those at the district or taluk levels, set to be fought separately, the JD(S) and Congress have begun focusing on rebuilding their parties at the local levels.

On Tuesday, the JD(S) held a meeting of its leaders who were defeated by small margins in the May 2018 Assembly elections and asked them to focus on their voter base as “polls could come any time.”

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad was in Bengaluru earlier this week to hold a brainstorming session with his party workers and discuss whether there was a need to continue the coalition arrangement as it seemed to be hindering the party’s voter base at different levels — as was evidenced by the rout the party suffered in the Lok Sabha elections.

Both parties are also looking at the by-elections that are inevitable in the 17 constituencies following the disqualification of the MLAs last week.