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Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018: Why Congress and JD(S) are Likely to Ignore Mamata's Advice on Pre-Poll Alliance

Any tie-up between the Congress and the JD(S) could be disastrous for both even if they manage to decimate the BJP in half of Karnataka.

D P Satish | News18dp_satish

Updated:March 29, 2018, 11:41 AM IST
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Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018: Why Congress and JD(S) are Likely to Ignore Mamata's Advice on Pre-Poll Alliance
File photo of JD(S) leader and former prime minister Deve Gowda. (Getty Images)
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Bengaluru: The day dates for Karnataka Assembly elections were declared, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked the Congress to ally with former prime minister HD Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular).

Speaking to the media, she had said, “Deve Gowda is a nice person. The Congress should go with him to defeat the BJP.”

A few hours before Mamata’s “nice man” certificate, Gowda had himself offered an olive branch to the Congress, saying he was ready for a tie-up. Before that, some well-known public personalities, led by 100-year-old Gandhian HS Doreswamy, had met Gowda and requested him to help the Congress and others defeat the BJP, which they called a “communal party”.

Minutes after his 85-year-old father’s offer of support to the Congress, ex-chief minister HD Kumaraswamy took on the Congress, categorically denying the possibility of any pact with the Congress.

An hour later, Gowda, too, did a U-turn, saying he was not interested in doing business with the Congress. All through these developments, the Grand Old Party, surprisingly, has kept quiet.

According to political analysts in Karnataka, Banerjee is not aware of the ground scenario in the state and a tie-up with the ruling Congress is impossible as both parties are in a direct fight with each other in at least 60-70 seats.

Any tie-up between the Congress and the JD(S) could be disastrous for both even if they manage to decimate the BJP in half of Karnataka. That’s because party cadre on the ground don’t see eye to eye in their respective strongholds and many may move to the BJP.

Contrary to popular belief that Karnataka is a three-party state, the Congress is the only party which is in contest in all 224 seats. The main opposition BJP is strong in about 160 seats and the JD(S) is in contention in about 70-80 seats.

In Old Mysore region, a JD(S) stronghold except state capital Bengaluru, it is more or less a direct fight between the Congress and the Gowdas. In the rest of Karnataka, the fight is between the Congress and the BJP. Only in 25-30 seats is the contest a triangular one. In such a scenario, an electoral understanding between the Congress and JD(S) would be politically not viable.

Both Rahul Gandhi and Siddaramaiah are openly attacking the JD(S), calling it a ‘B’ team of the BJP. During his last two visits to Gowda strongholds of Hassan, Mandya and Mysore, Gandhi ridiculed the JD(S) saying the ‘S’ in JD (S) stands for ‘Sangh Parivar’ and not for ‘Secular’.

By branding JD(S) a ‘B’ team of the BJP, Siddaramaiah is trying to ensure that Muslim votes and non-BJP, non-Congress votes don’t go to the JD(S).

Offering support to the Congress also gives Gowda an excuse to go with the BJP if the elections result in hung verdict. The Congress vs Gowda war of words over alleged pact with the BJP has even embarrassed saffron party leaders. Commenting on the allegations, BJP state unit chief BS Yeddyurappa said his party was going to win 150 seats on its own and there was “no need” for an alliance with the JD(S).
| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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