Bengaluru: Results of Karnataka’s Urban Local Body (ULB) polls have shown yet again that the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) can stop the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state only by joining hands.
Congress and JD(S) had an informal alliance for the ULB polls held on 31 August. As per results announced on Monday, out of the 2,664 seats in 105 ULBs, the BJP won 929 while the Congress got 982 and the JD(S) 375. Independents and other small parties together won 363 seats.
The Congress bagged 37 ULBs, while the BJP won 31 and the JD(S) 12. There were at around 13 seats that were undecided due to the close contest between major political parties and the presence of independent candidates, some fielded as proxies by established political parties. The JD(S) and Congress will have to formally ally in at least 12 ULBs as there are no clear winners.
In the 135 seats of three corporations, the BJP won 54 seats while the Congress and JD(S) won 36 and 14 respectively. The BJP won Shivamogga corporation on its own, while JD(S) and Congress joined hands to win Tumkuru and Mysuru.
Monday’s results also show the JD(S) and Congress will be forced to stay together for next year’s general election, where the two have decided to jointly take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP in Karnataka.
The results also show that much of the credit for BJP’s assembly election performance may be attributed more to its national leadership led by Modi and party chief Amit Shah than its state unit, where dissent has grown under B.S.Yeddyurappa.
At the same time, the BJP could not mobilise its grass root level workers for the ULB poll. In the May assembly election, it emerged as the single largest party with 104 out of the 224 seats, forcing a post-poll alliance between the JD(S) and Congress who got 38 and 80 respectively.
Congress state president Dinesh Gundu Rao said the partners would have performed better if they had had a formal alliance. The two parties decided to have a ‘friendly fight’ or an informal alliance in order not to upset grass root workers, many of whom are said to be unhappy with the state-level coalition.
Sandeep Shastri, political analyst and pro vice-chancellor, Jain University, said the JD(S) and Congress have performed better as an alliance and have to work harder to combine strengths.
“It is an indicator of the fact that unless the coalition partners really make an effort of presenting a common face and working together, it may be difficult for them to challenge the BJP," he says.
The two parties have announced a pre-poll alliance for 2019.
Shastri said the results have lessons for all three parties.
“Unless you get your act together, it is difficult to challenge the BJP," Shastri says about the coalition partnership. “And for the BJP, unless if you deal with your internal dissension, you may not be able to gain from any element against the coalition," he adds.