Congress divorces JDS ahead of local body elections in Karnataka

Congress JDS
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The results of the Karnataka assembly elections came out in mid-May in which the Bharatiya Janata Party had emerged as the single largest party. In a bid to stop the BJP from forming government in Karnataka, Congress had offered unconditional support to Janata Dal (Secular). The animosity between JDS chief H.D. Devegowda and Congress was immediately forgotten after the Karnataka verdict. Congress offered the Chief Minister seat to JDS even when they had twice the number of seats than JDS, highlighting their desperation to keep the BJP out of power. The swearing in ceremony of H.D. Kumaraswamy as the Chief Minister was a grand affair attended by Congress and other opposition leaders to show solidarity ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

However, very soon the united opposition gimmick started falling apart in Karnataka as constant tug of war ensued between the Congress and the JD (S) over one issue or another. After getting humiliated on Thursday in the elections for Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman it seems that a new humiliation is waiting for congress in Karnataka. According to media reports, everything is not well between the JD (S) and the Congress ahead of Karnataka urban local bodies elections. Despite being alliance partners, both parties are fighting these elections separately and attacking each other like enemies.

It’s quite funny to see that the parties that avowed to fight the BJP together are fighting with each other since the beginning of their alliance.

According to a Firstpost report, urban local bodies elections are going to held on 29 August to 2,574 wards in 105 urban local bodies — 29 city municipalities, 53 town municipalities and 23 town panchayats across Karnataka. The state has a total of 212 urban local bodies. In the second phase in November, elections will be held to the remaining 107 urban bodies, including seven city corporations. In the 2013 elections, Congress performed the best, securing nearly 40 percent of wards.

There is no alliance between the Congress and the JD (S) in the urban local bodies elections. So, it means it’s going to be a triangular contest. This is how Karnataka state elections were also fought in which the BJP emerged as the single largest party but JD(S) and the Congress formed an unholy alliance to keep the BJP out of power.

Not just in urban local bodies elections there is panic over seat sharing ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The state congress leaders are not willing to share seats with JD (S). In fact, the state Congress leaders were also not in favor of any coalition with JD (S). During the elections, the Congress and JD(S) candidates were engaged in a very bitter rivalry. During their election campaigns, Congress and JD(S) were attacking each other viciously. Rahul Gandhi, in fact, had called JD(S) the ‘B-team of BJP’ and further stated that ‘S’ in JD(S) stands for Sangh and not secular. JD(S) president H.D. Kumaraswamy had also vehemently attacked the Congress party. Kumaraswamy had said, “I have said this many time, in the democratic set-up of this country, the Congress is more dangerous than the BJP.” HD Kumaraswamy had also alleged Congress’ complicity in the Rs 5,450 crore iron ore scam.

Opportunistic Congress offered an unconditional support to JD(S) and equally opportunistic JD(S) president accepted the offer without any delay and in defiance to the mandate of Karnataka people which was against the Congress. The INC high command forced its local leadership to forge an alliance with JD(S) just to keep the BJP at bay and now the local leadership is unhappy. Senior leader of Karnataka state congress DK Shivakumar, went to the extent of saying that he swallowed bitter pills for a secular Congress-JD(S) alliance. Congress leader and Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka, G. Parmeshwara had also said that the alliance with JD(S) is not good for the long term but also conceded that they had no other options.

Not just from Congress, there have been several complaints from the side of JD(S) as well. CM Kumaraswamy in fact, broke into tears at a public event expressing deep discontentment towards his coalition with the Congress. A teary-eyed HD Kumaraswamy stated that, “All of you are happy because your elder or younger brother has become the chief minister. But I am not happy. I am swallowing my own pain like poison, like Vishakantha (Lord Shiva, who drank poison to save the world).’’ HD Kumaraswamy therefore likened coalition with the Congress to poison.

As the things are going it would be no exaggeration to say we might witness a Bihar like episode very soon. Despite being in alliance the Congress and JD (S) were never together. They fought almost on each and every issue be it portfolio distribution, government policies, budget etc. While presenting the budget Kumaraswamy had come under heavy pressure from the INC to preserve programmes announced by the former chief minister Siddaramaiah and give less importance to JD (S)’s poll promises. Kumaraswamy had to fight hard in order to fulfill his poll promise of a farm-loan waiver in face of stiff resistance coming from the Congress. However, he was compelled by the Congress to take back another big-ticket promise of monthly pension of Rs. 6,000/- to the elderly and allowance of Rs. 6,000/- for pregnant women in Karnataka. After the decision by the Karnataka government to hike sales tax on fuel, Siddaramaiah had launched a scathing attack on the Kumaraswamy government.

If the break-up between the Congress and the JD (S) happens then BJP will happily accommodate Kumaraswamy, it also aligns with PM Modi’s three leaders theory– HD Deve Gowda, Pranab Mukherjee and Sharad Pawar.

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Shubham Singh

21, (BA) Political Science Hons, PG Diploma in RTV, Learner.

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