Karnataka urban local body elections: As 'allies' Congress, JD(S) run into differences, agenda of defeating BJP lies forgotten

That the Congress nominee obtained a drubbing within the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman election on Thursday will not be even half the story, if we’re speaking in regards to the chaos within the Opposition ranks. The remainder of the story, or a part of the remainder of the story, is unfolding in Karnataka, the place submitting of nominations started on Friday for the 29 August elections to city native our bodies.

Regardless of being a part of the alliance that guidelines the state, Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) are combating these elections individually and fiercely, charging at one another like jallikattu bulls.

On the similar time, Congress leaders are additionally reacting with horror on the very point out of seat-sharing for the subsequent Lok Sabha election. Mahagathbandhan be damned.

The 2 events have been promising to struggle the BJP along with the avowed agenda of extricating the nation from the evil clutches of communalism. As a substitute, they’ve been combating one another over one problem and one other, a spectacle that final month drove Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy to tears.

Distribution of ministerial portfolios, populist schemes, pampering of Kumaraswamy’s dwelling district Hassan and transfers of presidency officers are among the many issues on which leaders of each events have not been seeing eye-to-eye regardless of their publicly made claims of a hunky-dory alliance.

File picture of JD(S) chief HD Kumaraswamy with Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. PTI

Within the city native physique elections, nonetheless, the 2 events are combating as in the event that they by no means struck an alliance to rule the state. Elections are being held on 29 August to 2,574 wards in 105 city native our bodies — 29 metropolis municipalities, 53 city municipalities and 23 city panchayats throughout Karnataka. The state has a complete of 212 city native our bodies. Within the second section in November, elections will likely be held to the remaining 107 city our bodies, together with seven metropolis firms. Within the 2013 elections, Congress carried out one of the best, securing almost 40 % of wards.

The alliance companions did not even fake to make an try to return to any form of understanding to struggle these elections. The logic prolonged by Congress in addition to JD(S) is that grassroots staff get pleasure from an excellent struggle for management of native our bodies, and that if pressured into an alliance, they could get annoyed sufficient to cross over to the BJP. They’re additionally at pains to speak a few convoluted technique, which if put in place, means this: In locations the place both Congress or JD(S) — or each — are sturdy, they’ll struggle individually. However wherever BJP has an higher hand, the 2 events can have a “pleasant cooperation” — if not an official alliance — to maintain the saffron occasion out.

It is certainly powerful to implement seat tie-ups in native physique elections — Congress and JD(S) did not struggle these polls collectively even once they had a coalition authorities within the state between 2004 and 2006. However it’s exhausting to disregard the way in which Congress leaders are more and more making noises about how powerful it might be to share the state’s 28 Lok Sabha seats with JD(S) in 2019.

Panic over seat-sharing

Prime leaders of each events have repeatedly been confirming that they’ll have a pre-poll alliance forward of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The actual fact that they repeat this, in fact, tells its personal story. The election remains to be some months away, however Congress leaders are already tying themselves in knots, as if it had been solely weeks away.

That is how events fared within the final three elections:

Lok Sabha election BJP Congress JD(S)
2004 18 8 2
2009 19 6 3
2014 17 9 2

What Congress leaders are panicking about is the distinct chance of their president Rahul Gandhi, whom they see as inexperienced in pulling off seat changes, forcing the state unit to concede too many seats to JD(S). They nonetheless have not overcome what they take into account an ignominy of giving up the chief minister’s submit to JD(S), which has solely half as many Meeting seats as Congress.

Senior leaders additionally admit that there’s large-scale confusion within the occasion over this, and have confirmed that lobbying has already begun with central leaders to impress upon them to present JD(S) as few seats as potential or to face the results.

All this comes at the same time as BJP has begun work in earnest to win as much as 22 seats. Congress leaders are demanding that seat changes, if any, with JD(S) have to be put in place on the very earliest, however indications from Delhi are that the method is not going to start till after the native physique elections are over. This, occasion leaders worry, will assist them little in catching up with BJP.

The frustration of Congress broadly arises from Karnataka’s north-south political divide. In southern Karnataka, each Congress and JD(S) have sturdy bases. And within the North, whereas the BJP is comparatively stronger, Congress will not be too badly off. What Congress leaders are cautious of is that whereas JD(S) can profit from their occasion within the South, it could supply little in return within the North. In 2014, Congress received 5 of its 9 Lok Sabha seats within the South, whereas JD(S) did not even get one within the North.

A pre-poll alliance between the 2 events might find yourself as a win-win scenario for JD(S), and lose-lose for Congress. In addition to, severe doubts over how lengthy the coalition authorities will final after the Lok Sabha election have solely raised the scepticism amongst Congress leaders in providing extra seats to JD(S) than they have to.

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