The Congress appears to have won the first round of seat-sharing talks, giving its hardball playing alliance partner, the Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), just eight of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka, including one held by the Congress.
The JD(S) released a list of candidates late on Wednesday after its national secretary general, Kunwar Danish Ali, met with Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Delhi.
The agreement seemed fair to both sides, said Dinesh Gundu Rao, state president of the Congress. The decision to retain the Mysuru-Kodagu seat would help “equitable distribution" between the two parties in the Vokkaliga belt that the Congress risked ceding to its alliance partner, he said. It would also be able to pacify its workers from the region, the Congress leader said.
Apart from Mandya, Hassan, and Shivamogga, already thought to be in its bag, the JD(S) got Uttara Kannada, Vijayapura, Bengaluru North, Tumakuru, and Udupi-Chikamagaluru. Off these, Tumakuru is with the Congress.
Former chief minister Siddaramaiah appears to have kept control over his home district of Mysuru, which had become one of the biggest bones of contention between the two.
“Undoubtedly the Congress has won this round," said Harish Ramaswamy, political analyst and faculty at the Karnatak University, Dharwad.
JD(S) chief H.D. Deve Gowda had earlier said that his party wanted 12 seats. However, after the assembly elections held on 12 May 2018, the Congress made significant sacrifices, including giving up the chief minister’s post to its smaller partner in the hope that it could get a higher seat share, winnable ones at that, when it sat for seat-sharing talks.
Deve Gowda is likely to contest from Bengaluru North, though there is no official word on this at the moment.
The Bharatiya Janata Party is hoping to cash in on the friction between the two parties, especially in south Karnataka where the Congress and the JD(S) workers have shared a bloody and violent past.