Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president Amit Shah took a dig at the Janata Dal (Secular) and Congress coalition in Karnataka, saying that the state had two-and-half chief ministers, referring to the perceived discord between H.D.Kumaraswamy and his predecessor, Siddaramaiah.
“Kumaraswamy calls himself a clerk, Siddaramaiah is super CM and Parameshwara is half CM," Shah said on Thursday, addressing a rally in Devanahalli, located in the outskirts of Bengaluru.
Shah and the BJP have tried to capitalise on the frequent friction between the JD(S) and Congress, whose differences have only grown in the last eight months, since the two came together and formed a coalition government.
The saffron outfit hoping that the coalition in Karnataka would act as a prelude to the rapidly disintegrating ‘mahagathbandhan’ or grand alliance which the Rahul Gandhi-led party is trying to consolidate under it in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Karnataka, from where the Congress had secured one of the highest tally of seats in 2014, is an important state for the national party and its only footprint in the south currently. Though the Congress has managed to bag three important state elections--Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh--ceding Karnataka is an option it cannot afford, forcing out several sacrifices from the party in favour of its regional ally.
But the issue of seat sharing has turned into another problem for the alliance partners, who are both playing hardball even before formal negotiations can begin. The bone of contention is constituencies in south Karnataka, where both parties have a significant presence. Ceding ground to the JD(S) here would mean giving up on the dominant Vokkaliga community vote, that appears to have consolidated behind the regional party.
The other big problem staring the alliance is the apparent animosity between grassroot level workers of the two parties, who can barely see eye to eye in these parts and are unwilling to work together despite the state level alliance.
If the two parties are unable to resolve these issues, it is likely to fall in favour ofr the BJP to enter these regions, where it currently has very limited presence in terms of elected representation.
Shah hoping that these differences would play to the BJP’s advantage, which will be defending its five-year term in office in the Lok Sabha elections.
“To make Modi PM again we need to ensure a majority to BJP. As important as it is for BJP, it is equally important for country that we win this election," Shah said, listing out several of the party’s flagship programmes.
Shah said that unlike Kumaraswamy’s failed promises on the farm loan waiver, the Modi government’s direct transfer of benefit scheme will benefit 13-15 crore farmers. “In 10 years Modi will have given ₹7.5 lakh crore for farmers," Shah said.
“There are no beggars when it comes to coalition alliance. If there are any issues in the alliance, we shall sit & discuss amicably. But with respect to seat sharing, we have not taken any decision but shall depend on the winnability of the candidates. @INCKarnataka," Siddaramaiah on Thursday wrote on Twitter.
The “winnability" factor could turn out to be the key word which the Congress is likely to use to deny any possible demand for higher seats by the JD(S), that currently holds only two parliamentary constituencies. The regional party is hoping to enter new regions and increase its own tally with the alliance agreement.