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Rajya Sabha Polls: What’s the Future of Congress-JD(S) 'Alliance' in Karnataka?

Congress and JD(S) may have to mend their relationship before 2023 Assembly elections.

Updated
Rajya Sabha Polls: What’s the Future of Congress-JD(S) 'Alliance' in Karnataka?
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As the Rajya Sabha elections to four seats in Karnataka concluded on Friday, 10 June, the Opposition seemed to be in disarray, with the Bharatiya Janata Party winning three seats. As a bitter culmination to the weeks-long fight over the contentious fourth RS seat in the state, the Congress managed to win just one seat and the JD(S) ended up with none.

The BJP cemented its victory electing three of its members – Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, actor-turned-politician Jaggesh, and former MLC Lehar Singh Siroya, and the Congress elected senior leader Jairam Ramesh to the Rajya Sabha. The JD(S) failed in electing its candidate Kupendra Reddy.

But what does this say about the Opposition's prospects ahead of the 2023 Legislative Assembly elections in the state, where the BJP has been in power in 2019?

While members of the Congress and JD(S) indicated that mending their strained relationship could be tough for the two parties in 2023, the BJP leaders said that their party is at an advantage because the Opposition has not got its act together. In fact, the BJP even thinks that the longstanding tiff between the Opposition parties could make the JD(S) lean towards the saffron party.

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Possibility of Congress-JD(S) Combine Very Bleak in Karnataka

There has never been a pre-poll alliance between the two parties in the history of Karnataka Assembly elections. According to political analysts, the potential for JD(S) and Congress to put a united fight in this Assembly elections is also close to nil.

Observing the political developments that unfurled over the course of this week, former Minister for Social Welfare and MLA of Chittapur Priyank Kharge remarked that it is Congress that is the only credible Opposition to the BJP across the country.

"If the JD(S) is really keen on ensuring that the ideology of the RSS and the BJP does not succeed, then they must give us all the support that they can. But, I do not see that happening. The reasons for it must be given by the JD(S)," told Priyank Kharge to The Quint.

"The Congress had not fielded a candidate during the previous Rajya Sabha elections in 2020, ensuring the victory of former Prime Minister HD Devegowda. We expected a courtesy payback this year and wanted the support of JD(S) to uphold the secular fabric of our country."
Priyank Kharge, MLA Chittapur

Despite not having the required number of votes from the state Assembly to elect the fourth Rajya Sabha member, all three political parties in the state had nominated their candidates, forcing an election.

Each is required to get the support of at least 45 MLAs to get elected to the Upper House. However, when votes were counted in the second-preferential polling, to elect the fourth candidate, BJP's Leher Singh Siroya took the lead due to crossvoting by MLAs from other parties.

Speaking to The Quint, psephologist Prof Sandeep Shastri said, "I don’t see the prospects of JD(S) and Congress coming together, as they have been bitten badly during the previous Lok Sabha elections. Both the parties lost a big chunk of their support base due to this alliance. We are going to see a three pronged fight in 2023, regardless of this election result,” said Prof Sandeep Shastri, a psephologist based in Bengaluru.

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BJP Benefits From Disagreements Between Congress-JD(S)

Sources within the BJP told The Quint that Kumaraswamy is likely to sway towards the saffron party given the sparring association he has with senior leader Siddaramiah and KPCC president DK Shivakumar.

Speaking to The Quint about the future of JD(S), political analyst Sriram Sheshadri said, "I do think anymore JD(S) MLAs are going to back the Congress. Instead, I see a lot more tacit understanding between the JD(S) and the BJP. This is because Kumaraswamy is likely to expect a portfolio for a member of his party at the Centre. In this regard, JD(S) will continue to be the third party in the 2023 elections, and then work closely with the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. This kind of an arrangement has not worked for the JD(S) when it partnered with the Congress.”

Meanwhile, the BJP celebrated the victories of Nirmala Sitharaman, Jaggesh and Leher Singh Siroya in Bengaluru and said that this election can be looked at as the precursor to the kind of defeat the Congress and JD(S) are likely to face in the upcoming elections.

Addressing reporters after the result, National General Secretary of BJP CT Ravi said, "There are people in other parties who like the work done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and have faith in him. They have helped us. I'd like to thank them."

"Even though the BJP did not have the required number of first preference votes, they understood the political equations in the state, and the difference which was so predominantly evident between Kumaraswamy and Siddaramiah. The BJP and its leadership which was quick to read this ensured a comfortable victory for its candidates," said Capt Ganesh Karnik (Retd), BJP spokesperson in Karnataka.
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Is JD(S) More Hit Than the Congress?

MLA Srinivas Gowda, who was accused by the JD(S) for having actually helped the BJP, defended himself and told The Quint, "Earlier, I have won elections from four different parties. I was also a minister during the Congress regime. But, neither Deve Gowda nor his son (Kumaraswamy) offered me a portfolio when I won on the JD(S) ticket. I was already in talks with the Congress and had decided to vote for their candidate in this Rajya Sabha election. Now, I will soon be joining the Congress party”.

"I voted for the Congress because I love it."
Srinivas Gowda, Kolar MLA and former JD(S) leader

The ongoing crisis in the JD(S) has also highlighted the growing dissidence within the party and the possible end of the regional party's dominance.

A source close to The Quint from the JD(S) said, "This is a party run by father and sons and the term Janata is antithesis to what the party is today. According to me, the JD(S) has been finished and there is no way for this regional party to compete with BJP’s increasing electoral footprint."

A few days before the election, HD Kumaraswamy had also asked the Congress leadership to extend their first preferential votes to JD(S) candidate Kupendra Reddy, as none of the parties had enough votes to elect their own candidate.

However, when the Congress rejected the offer and instead wrote letters appealing the JD(S) MLAs to back Mansoor Ali Khan, the JD(S) leadership moved their legislators to a resort, in the outskirts of Bengaluru, accusing Siddaramiah and the Congress of trying to indulge in horse-trading.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read and Breaking News at the Quint, browse for more from south-india

Topics:  Politics   KARNATAKA   Congress-JD(S) 

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