The Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S), that have been embroiled in internal issues, are facing the possibility of a steady erosion of its already disenchanted cadre to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), local leaders and workers said.
While the Congress has delayed the reorganisation of its party and naming a new president, the former prime minister H.D.Deve Gowda-led JD(S) is battling growing factionalism leaving the workers of both parties vulnerable to any poaching attempts by rival parties.
“If they become defunct (party leadership), naturally the other party will take over," said one senior Congress leader, requesting not to be named.
With its own respective houses in disarray, both the Congress and the JD(S) unable to capitalise on the discord within the B.S.Yediyurappa-led BJP government that is trying to manage expectations of the newly elected rebel legislators, the old guard and the cabinet expansion that has kept it from switching gears from its bypoll victory and introducing any developmental projects or plug missing governance.
The BJP is especially interested in the south Karnataka region after its historic victory in Krishnarajpet in the sugarcane growing district of Mandya, about 100 kms from Bengaluru.
The recruitment would help the BJP in upcoming Grama Panchayati elections among others and help it strengthen its foothold in south Karnataka or the Vokkaliga belt to fuel its aspirations of getting a majority on its own in future assembly polls.
A section within the Congress believes that the naming of a new president will invigorate its cadre while others say that it could just add to the growing factionalism.
D.K.Shivakumar is one of the front runners to replace Dinesh Gundu Rao as Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president. But his strained relationship with acting leader of the opposition, Siddaramaiah, could make matters worse for the party, should Shivakumar’s candidature be approved.
Siddaramaiah on Monday headed to Delhi to meet with the Congress high command that is expected to make its decision on naming a new president.
“There has been no strategic response from either of the political parties," A.Narayana, political analyst and faculty at the Azim Premji University said, referring to the Congress and JD(S).
He added that the protests over the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) has shielded the opposition’s weakness to some extent in Karnataka.
Chief minister Yediyurappa has been under pressure to expand the cabinet and include the newly elected legislators who helped topple the H.D.Kumaraswamy-led coalition and instate the BJP.
Yediyurappa has been unsuccessfully trying to get an audience with his national party president Amit Shah. Yediyurappa on Monday said that he will go to Delhi on Tuesday and clear all issues of the cabinet expansion if Amit Shah gives him time for a meeting.
Yediyurappa also said that he would head to Davos for the World Economic Forum (WEF) after cancelling out earlier as he was being compelled by the central leadership to attend the event.