Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. File photo: HT
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. File photo: HT

Karnataka assembly elections: JD(U) to contest about 25-30 seats

Ahead of the upcoming Karnataka polls, Bihar CM and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar said the atmosphere of tension in the country will not last long

Bengaluru: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday said that the atmosphere of tension in the country will not last long.

“There is growing sense of tension in the environment. All this, according to me, will not go on for very long. The country will progress only when there is love, peace and compassion in the society," he said.

Kumar said this at a time when the Bihar government has come under fire for not being able to contain the communal violence in the northern state. Kumar had said that his government will not compromise with communalism even though there were reports of the involvement of leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the violence that spread to many districts of the state. Kumar had come under criticism after his party had parted ways with Lalu Prasad Yadav and forged an alliance with the BJP in July last year, to remain in power in the state.

Kumar, who was in Bengaluru on Wednesday, addressed party workers ahead of the upcoming polls in Karnataka. The Janata Dal (United), a party that has a large presence in Bihar and Jharkhand among other areas, said that it will contest about 25-30 seats in the 12 May elections. Mahima Patel, the state president of the JD(U), said that the party is aiming to make a dent in the upcoming elections, that is largely being seen as a three-way contest between Congress, BJP and the Janata Dal (Secular).

“Since we are starting at zero, even winning one seat will be a big leap for us," said Patel, the son of former Karnataka chief minister the late J.H.Patel.

Though JD(U) has been unable to make a mark in its outings so far in the state, campaigning by leaders like Kumar could help the party build a stronger foundation in the state. So far former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati-led Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) and Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have announced their entry into Karnataka through an alliance with the JD(S). The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will also contest a limited number of seats in the upcoming polls.

While the Congress and the BJP are targeting each other while discounting the JD(S), the latter has made pre-poll alliances that would split the vote of national parties--both of whom have enjoyed power in the state.

The JD(U), however, has said that it will not go with the BJP in Karnataka. Though the two parties are part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the centre and have joined hands to rule Bihar, Patel said the same arrangement will not be followed in Karnataka.

“If we are giving support, the first preference will be the JD(S), second Congress and third BJP," Patel said. He added that his national leadership has given him complete freedom to pick his partners.

The JD(U) contested 116 seats in the 2013 Karnataka assembly elections and polled a total of 0.43% vote share in the seats it contested. Patel said that the party will release its list of candidates on 15 April.