BENGALURU: The coalition government in the state, headed by H D Kumaraswamy, is bracing up for its first test with the State Election Commission fixing August 29 as the date for elections to 105 urban local bodies (ULBs). The election is being seen not just as an indicator of public perception about the Kumaraswamy government, but a tough test of bonding between Congress and JD(S) ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Though the coalition partners are yet to decide on forging an electoral tie-up for the ensuing ULB polls, Congress leaders, from the grassroot level to many ministers, have conveyed their opposition to it. The issue had figured prominently at the dinner hosted by Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah for party ministers on Wednesday.
According to sources, many Congress ministers wanted the party to go it alone in the ULB polls. Most of the district and taluk unit heads of Congress have already conveyed their opposition to any tie-up with JD(S) for these polls. "Any such pact will deliver a mortal blow to party at the grassroots level. It is impossible to expect Congress workers and local leaders to work for the victory of JD(S) candidates at a local level," a Congress functionary from Bengaluru Rural district told TNIE.
While Congress president Rahul Gandhi and JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda have announced their desire to have a tie-up for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the two parties are almost certain to contest independently in the ULB polls bowing to pressure from their respective cadres. However, these polls will be seen as the real test of bonding between Congress and JD(S) as the candidates of the two parties are compelled to attack each other during the campaigning in many districts like Mysuru, Mandya, Ramanagara, Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Tumakuru, and Bengaluru Rural where the two are the main contenders and BJP is not yet a force to reckon with at the grassroots level.
The aggressive campaigning has all the potential to intensify the acrimony which is simmering between leaders of the two parties after Chief Minister H D Kumaraswmay's emotional statements on farm loan waiver and development of North Karnataka.With Kumaraswamy heading the government, JD(S) is expected to better its performance in ULB polls compared to its show in the recent Assembly election. Such an outcome will raise the bargaining power of JD(S) ahead of the Lok Sabha polls when the leaders of the two parties sit down for seat-sharing talks. Congress could face trouble from within if the party shows signs of bowing to pressure from JD(S).