BENGALURU: Given the soured relations between Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his erstwhile mentor H D Deve Gowda, bringing the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) together appeared impossible, but three JD(S) MLAs have been up to the challenge.
B Z Zameer Ahmed Khan, K Gopalaiah and Akhanda Srinivas Murthy see the mayoral election as the last chance of the JD(S) to emerge as a significant player in state politics again.
They fear they will end up spending at least two-and-a-half years more on the sidelines if they don’t do something dramatic now.
Their party’s numbers are insignificant in the Assembly and the Legislative Council. Its showing in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) elections, winning just 14 of 198 seats, doesn’t give it much leeway either.
This is what motivated the three leaders to initiate talks with the Congress. The JD(S) patriarch and his son H D Kumaraswamy also see it as a lifeboat, and a chance to keep the party’s fortunes afloat.
Khan, a three-time MLA from Chamarajpet, has emerged as the face of the JD(S) in Bengaluru, with a grip over a section of the Muslim community.
Within the JD(S), Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy have the final say, but Khan has developed his own identity. For some time, he was not on good terms with Kumaraswamy and had kept himself away from party activities.
Gopalaiah, a first time MLA from Mahalakshmi Layout Assembly seat, is popular in the western parts of the city. He managed to send three corporators, including his wife, from his constituency, the highest for the party in the 27 Assembly segments. Akhanda Srinivas Murthy is a first-time MLA.
As for the Congress, it sees in the JD(S) initiative an opportunity to turn the tables on the BJP.
A source said Congress leader Byrathi Basavaraj had started talking to JD(S) corporators, who purportedly asked for chairmanships of standing committees and the deputy mayor’s post.