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Hung Assembly Will Put Gowdas in Driver's Seat, May Render Siddaramaiah, BSY Irrelevant

Political analysts in Karnataka agree that a hung Assembly will end Siddaramaiah and Yeddyurappa era in the state paving the way for second line leaders to emerge as front ranking leaders.

D P Satish | News18dp_satish

Updated:April 24, 2018, 7:46 PM IST
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Bengaluru: With most pre-poll surveys predicting a hung Assembly in Karnataka, the ruling Congress and the main opposition BJP are getting jittery.

JDS of the Gowdas, the third player in the race, is smiling after smelling an opportunity to be in the driver's seat after a decade.

Both Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and BJP's CM face BS Yeddyurappa camps are worried about the possibility of a hung Assembly. A fractured mandate will make them powerless in a system controlled by their arch rival: the Gowda family.

But not all in the Congress and BJP are worried about their party not reaching the halfway mark on their own. Some second line leaders are secretly rejoicing at the possibility of a hung House, hoping that it will give them a chance to gain more power in a fluid political situation.

Political analysts in Karnataka agree that a hung Assembly will end Siddaramaiah and Yeddyurappa era in the state paving the way for second line leaders to emerge as front ranking leaders.

A senior leader of the Congress said that Siddaramaiah had personal enmity with the Gowda family and it had affected the Congress and JDS relationship.

"He has been attacking the Gowdas. He even persuaded Rahul Gandhi to take on the Gowdas in his election speeches. We are not happy with this. In case of a hung Assembly, we have to go to JDS for support. They will use it as an excuse not to back us and may prefer BJP over us,” said the senior Congress leader.

Many original Congress leaders feel that the party high command should reach out to the Gowdas even before the polls to make sure that the JDS will be with the Congress in case of a hung Assembly.

But Siddaramaiah camp is opposing any such move, claiming that party will manage to cross the halfway mark of 113 seats and sending feelers to Gowdas will go against the party. They also allege that JDS is a "B team" of the BJP and they will anyway go with the BJP if the elections throw up a hung Assembly.

Top leaders of the party Mallikarjuna Kharge, G Parameshwara, D K Shivakumar, T B Jayachandra, Kagodu Thimmappa and R V Deshpande want the party to keep the option of going with the JDS open.

Some former JDS leaders now in the Congress, including Siddaramaiah, are vehemently opposing it.

The situation is no different in the BJP. Like Siddaramaiah camp even the BS Yeddyurappa camp is also worried about their fight for Vidhana Soudha ending up in creating a hung Assembly.

After the disastrous 20:20 month experiment of 2006-07, the relationship between the Gowdas and Yeddyurappa has soured beyond repair. Yeddyurappa has always been opposing any tie up with the JDS.

He had opposed an alliance with the JDS in Bengaluru City Corporation earlier, saying that he will not go with the Gowdas even if he has to retire from politics. The Gowdas also dislike him intensely.

Speaking to News18, H D Deve Gowda said that there was no question of doing any kind of business with Yeddyurappa.

Like Congress, the second line leaders in the BJP are also hoping to exploit the situation for their benefit.

"If we don't reach 113, Yeddyurappa can't be our CM. The Gowdas won't accept him. We will have to look for someone else to replace him. Actually, it will give us an opportunity to ease him out. He is also 75 now," said a senior BJP leader.

Many in the state BJP believe that Modi and Shah combine will not let the JDS go with the Congress keeping the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in mind. And the JDS state chief HD Kumaraswamy is also favouring an alliance with the BJP than with the Congress.

According to his close aides since JDS' main rival in the state is Congress and not the BJP, he is favouring the saffron party.

"Father may prefer Congress minus Siddaramaiah and his men, but Kumaraswamy wants to go with the BJP," said one of his close MLAs.

But some leaders of the civil society have already requested Gowda to back Congress to prove that his party Janata Dal Secular is really secular.

However, Gowda is non-committal and claims JDS will win on its own. Speaking to News18, he said: "We are against both Congress and BJP. Will never back anyone. We will sit in the opposition if we fail to win majority seats.”

Sources in the JDS claim that leaders of SP, BSP, NCP, Left parties, TDP, BJD, etc have advised Gowda not to go with the BJP keeping 2019 Lok Sabha elections in mind.

"They want him to be a part of the third front alliance against the BJP in 2019. But Gowda being Gowda is keeping all cards close to his chest," said a family member.

While the Congress and BJP are hoping for a clear majority for them, Gowda is praying for a hung Assembly to have a crack at being the kingmaker after 11 years in political hibernation.

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| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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