Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy (Mint file)
Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy (Mint file)

A year after assembly polls, Karnataka stares at an uncertain political future

  • Karnataka saw one of the most high-pitched battles across several of its constituencies, especially in the southern part of the state that bared the divide between the Congress and the JD(S)
  • The BJP is hoping that it would reap the benefits of the discord between the two parties

Bengaluru: Barely a year since it went to the polls, Karnataka is staring at political uncertainty as it awaits the results of the 28 parliamentary and two assembly by-poll results that could help determine the future of the H.D. Kumaraswamy-led coalition government in the state.

Karnataka saw one of the most high-pitched battles across several of its constituencies, especially in the southern part of the state that bared the divide between the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S), who have struggled to keep its partnership alive in the last one year.

Though the coalition has tried to put up a united face against the persistent onslaughts of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), its own bitter and bloody past continues to haunt the government and the alliance that was formed to circumvent the fractured verdict in last year’s assembly elections.

The coalition has blamed the BJP for deliberately trying to destabilise the government.

“There were also "artificial calamities" posed by the opposition who were relentlessly and shamelessly trying to destabilise an elected government. These political challenges posed by opposition too we addressed effectively. We have completed a year and will complete the next four years of our term successfully," Kumaraswamy told Mint on Wednesday.

The BJP is hoping that it would reap the benefits of the discord between the two parties especially in southern Karnataka where the workers of both JD(S) and Congress refused to join hands and work for coalition candidates.

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The discord more than apparent in the sugarcane growing district of Mandya, about 100 kms from Bengaluru, which became one of the most keenly watched contests in the country. Kumaraswamy fielded his actor son Nikhil as the seat fell to the share of the JD(S) as part of the agreement with the Congress. Though the former Prime Minister H.D.Deve Gowda led JD(S) considers this district its bastion, the entry of Sumalatha Amarnath (Sumalatha Ambareesh) threatened not just to dent Nikhil’s electoral debut but also the equations between two parties. Congress leaders and workers, upset that Mandya was handed to its bitter rival without even being consulted, openly backed Sumalatha that added to the simmering tensions between the two. Workers and several leaders have been against the state level alliance as the cadre of both parties cannot even see eye-to-eye in several districts. The BJP’s decision to officially back Sumalatha, added to the problems and contest.

The “non-cooperation" by Congress workers in Mandya percolated to neighbouring districts like Mysuru where JD(S) cadre reciprocated that, in effect, could end up benefiting the BJP.

“They think simple math of adding the two will win. But the bad chemistry between its workers is why they will lose," C.T.Ravi, General Secretary of the state BJP said.

An unfavourable result in the Chincholi and Kundgol assembly by-polls could also end up shrinking the numbers of the coalition that is surviving on a slender majority.

As it stands, the coalition has 117 (including one independent) members while the BJP has 104 in the 224 seater house. There is one more independent and two vacancies--Chincholi and Kundgol--that will be announced on Thursday, along with the results of the parliamentary elections. There will be two more assembly vacancies if Krishna Byre Gowda and Eshwar Khandre win Bengaluru North and Bidar respectively.

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