Former Karnataka chief minister H D Kumaraswamy speaks during the confidence motion moved by Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa-led BJP government to prove their majority in the state Assembly, in Bengaluru (Photo: PTI)
Former Karnataka chief minister H D Kumaraswamy speaks during the confidence motion moved by Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa-led BJP government to prove their majority in the state Assembly, in Bengaluru (Photo: PTI)

Congress-JD(S) coalition crumbles under the weight of its internal challenges

  • Congress and JD(S) are yet to formally snap ties, but leaders say there is little incentive for the tie-up to continue
  • The two parties are yet to formally snap ties, but senior leaders from both sides say there is very little incentive for the alliance to continue

Bengaluru: In May 2018, the swearing-in ceremony of H.D.Kumaraswamy in Bengaluru became the biggest platform for Opposition politics to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

The sight, in which at least 15 prominent leaders from various political parties took the stage, is now only a pile of coalition rubble.

The Congress had swallowed its differences and allied with its rival Janata Dal (Secular) to keep the BJP out of power in Karnataka--an alliance it continued in the face of several external and internal challenges.

But the BJP’s victory in Monday’s trust vote is likely to have sealed the fate of the Congress-JD(S) alliance that was always well past its expiry date, according to party leaders and political analysts.

Congress and JD(S) leaders appeared more relaxed after the loss in the floor test on Monday than during the entire time in power.

Though the two sides are yet to formally snap ties, senior leaders from both sides say that there is very little incentive for the alliance to continue, which carries the risk of ceding more ground to the BJP.

Some even argue that the alliance had only heightened the distrust between the two traditional rivals who were unable to overcome the insurmountable differences in the past 14 months.

“We may have some arrangements like floor management or on specific issues, But during elections, it will most likely be a three-way fight," said one senior Congress leader, requesting not to be named.

Outcome of the Lok Sabha elections, in which both parties were reduced to one seat each, will help the two sides choose to contest individually than together.

“We have to see how things pan out from here," said H.D.Kumaraswamy, JD(S) state president. He added that the decision on continuing the alliance will be a matter left for the high command of both parties.

The non-committal approach to continuing the alliance will change the political equations in Karnataka where one could see JD(S) side with the BJP while isolating the Congress, which will be perceived as the common enemy.

JD(S) will need BJP’s help to gain back some lost ground in south Karnataka as its workers and Vokkaliga support base strayed away from the H.D.Deve Gowda-led regional outfit after it allied with the Congress.

The two sides are now more focused on regaining the trust of their disenchanted cadre to try and win as many seats as possible in the bypolls of at least 17 constituencies after its representatives were disqualified by the speaker under the stringent anti-defection laws.

The Congress is now busy trying to elect a leader of opposition, which might rekindle some internal problems, due to different party factions lobbying for the post. Siddaramaiah, R.V.Deshpande, D.K.Shivakumar, M.B.Patil and H.K.Patil are among the contenders for the post.

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