Say its tactics of blackmail will not work
The possibility of the JD(S) aligning with the Congress to form a post-poll alliance in a hung assembly have disappeared. After being deprived of a chance to win a Rajya Sabha seat in March, it threatened to have a tie-up with the BJP.
Spurning overtures by the JD(S), the national parties say it is incapable of being voted into office on its own.
In the Rajya Sabha elections held last month, chief minister Siddaramaiah forced a contest for the fourth seat and destroyed hopes of the JD(S) to win one seat. The JD(S) accused the Congress of using unfair means.
The Congress further upset the JD(S) when its president Rahul Gandhi termed it a ‘B’ team of the BJP. Gandhi was quoted as saying, “The ‘S’ in JD(S) no longer stands for ‘Secular’. It now stands for ‘Sangh Parivar’. The JD(S) is actually Janata Dal Sangh Parivar.”
KPCC general secretary L. Hanumanthaiah, a former MLC, said: “The Congress has the capability to make it to office for a second consecutive time. The Rajya Sabha elections were fair. I don’t understand why they created a ruckus. They never had any chance.”
BJP functionary Tejashwini Gowda informed The Observer: “The JD(S) was devastated after its MLAs rebelled. They failed to manage their candidates, who voted for the Congress, which won three seats.”
“Kumaraswamy used the BJP brand to threaten the Congress after the Rajya Sabha humiliation. In return, the Congress challenged their secular status to secure their Muslim vote bank,” said Tejashwini, who joined the BJP five years ago.
JD(S) functionary Prabhakar S says: “The state needs a secular party in power. We can see how both BJP and Congress are dividing people on several lines. The people of Karnataka know only we can change their fate.”
But Bharati Shetty, spokesperson for BJP, accuses the JD(S) of being politically unstable. “Once they go with the BJP; the other time they go with INC. They cannot be trusted. They have never been able to control their MLAs.”
Karnataka Congress secretary Chalvadi Narayanaswami informed The Observer: “They are no longer a secular party. Even on some very communal issues, they are not making any effort to attack the BJP…. They very well know they alone can never come to power. Their blackmail politics will not work.”
B.M. Farooq, the JD(S) candidate for the Rajya Sabha, said: “We will fight this election on our own. We are planning to win at least 100 seats.”
To Rahul Gandhi’s statement that the JD(S) is the BJP’s ‘B’ team, Farooq said with a chuckle: “New to politics, he is trying to learn. He took tips from Siddaramaiah, is confused and acting like this.”
The JD(S), which never had a pre-poll tie-up with any party, announced that it would contest this year’s assembly elections in alliance with the BSP and NCP. But any hopes of gaining from that alliance seem to be fading. BSP president Mayawati has shown little interest in Karnataka after Samajwadi Party candidates, backed by her party, won by-elections to the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats. NCP president Sharad Pawar has, meanwhile, called for an end to blind anti-Congressism.
The JD(S), an offshoot of the Janata Dal, has always contested more than 200 seats in Karnataka. Its best performance was in the 2004 assembly elections when it won 59 seats, a number that plunged to 28 in the 2008 polls. The party won 40 seats in the 2013 assembly elections.
Reacting to Siddaramaiah’s statement that the JD(S) would not win more than 25 seats in 2018, state JD(S) president and former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy claimed his party would win 113 seats in the assembly and secure at least 25 seats in Karnataka in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.