BENGALURU: The Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) seat-sharing for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections is likely to be a fight for one-upmanship between JD(S) supremo and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and his protege-turned-political rival and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
The regional party is demanding 12 of the 28 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state and has given enough indication that it wants most of the constituencies in the Vokkaliga-dominated South Karnataka region.Coordination Committee chairman Siddaramaiah and Congress will find it difficult to accept this as 5 out of 9 seats that the party won in 2014 are in South Karnataka.
The JD(S) is likely to make most of the Congress’ compulsion at the national-level to further strengthen its base in South Karnataka, while the state Congress leaders will be keen to retain the party base in South Karnataka.
In 2014 General Elections , the Congress won nine seats, JD (S) two and BJP 17 seats. “The Congress has a strong base in South Karnataka and the Janata Dal (Secular) too is likely to ask for a majority of seats from the region. This might lead to some differences in the coalition and the symptoms are already visible,” said Prof Kiran Gajanur of Department of Political Science, Bengaluru Central University.
Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s recent statement that he was not allowed to work freely owing to pressure from Congress and several JD (S) leaders expressing displeasure over the Grand Old Party ‘unilaterally’ announcing heads of boards and corporation are seen as an attempt by the regional party to send out a strong message that it cannot be taken for granted. The Congress, however, is treading carefully. According to sources, Congress MPs want the high command to talk tough with the JD (S) leadership so that it will not end up giving its constituencies. That may not be an easy task as based on the 2:1 power sharing formula, Gowda is asking for 12 seats. Even if the Congress manages to convince the JD(S) to settle for 9 seats, the regional party will not accept many seats outside the Old Mysore region.
Though Gowda maintains that they have not decided on the constituencies, sources said, apart from JD(S) bastions of Hassan and Mandya districts, the party is likely to ask for Tumakuru, Chikkaballapur and Kolar, which are currently held by Congress. Other constituencies that the party is likely to demand are Mysuru, Bengaluru North, Shivamogga, Vijayapura,Udupi-Chikkamagaluru,and Davangere.
After Siddaramaiah lost the Assembly polls from Chamundeshwari in Mysuru, he is now focusing on Badami in North Karnataka, which came to his rescue by electing him with a thin margin. And LS election has given him an opportunity to reassert his authority in Mysuru and other districts of the Old Mysuru region.Currently, JD(S) seems to have an advantage as the Congress high command will look at the seat-sharing process from a national perspective and with the only objective of defeating BJP’s candidates in as many seats as possible.
The Congress also needs Gowda to send out a right message to other regional leaders. On Friday, Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao said they will soon decide on seat-sharing.