Will JD(S) back Congress, if Siddaramaiah steps aside for a Dalit CM?

After Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that he was willing to sacrifice his post for a Dalit face, JD(S) hinted that it could play ball with Congress

PTI photos
PTI photos

Tasleem Khan

Have the voters of Karnataka given a clear-cut majority to one political party? Will a single party be able to form the government on its own? If so, which party will it be? Will the results after counting present a hung assembly? In such a situation, which party would align with whom?

The results of exit polls after the voting ended in Karnataka on Saturday made the entire picture fuzzier than clearing the air. About eight-nine exit polls conducted by TV channels and some media houses showed that the poll results may not go in favour of either the BJP or Congress.

While some exit polls showed the Congress emerging as the largest party, others predicted a victory for the BJP. A common thread binding these exit polls was the prediction for the JD(S), which is slated to win between 22 and 40 seats in Karnataka. If this estimate proves to be accurate then, it can be said that the key to forming government in Karnataka would lie with the JD(S).

Since voting ended, political activities in the southern state have intensified. Both Congress and the BJP apparently are looking confident of a victory. Despite this confidence, brain-storming over a “plan-B” is going on in both the camps. The focus of this brain-storming concerns a scenario wherein no party gets a majority. Then, on what basis and issues would the JD(S) be wooed.

But before this, there is a need to understand the political statements which were issued over the weekend. During the voting on Saturday, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah looked confident as results of exit polls started to come in. But on Sunday, his statement of stepping aside for a Dalit candidate pierced the political silence like a sharp arrow.

Immediately after Siddaramaiah’s statement came the reaction of JD(S) supreme HD Deve Gowda, who said that his party would throw their weight behind Congress if Siddaramaiah didn’t become the chief minister. His statement is being considered significant as “bad blood” between Gowda and Siddaramaiah is common knowledge.

Meanwhile, informed sources confided to NH that Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, who is in alliance with the JD(S) in Karnataka, signalled to Deve Gowda that in case there is an option of a Dalit CM, then the party must support Congress.

If this happens, then Congress will once again be in power in the state even in case of a hung assembly. After Siddaramaiah’s statements and Deve Gowda’s gesture, the Congress has started brain-storming over who could be the chief minister, if not Siddaramaiah?

According to the sources in Karnataka Congress, if the party decided on a Dalit chief minister, then the first and foremost candidate seems to be former union minister and leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge. Kharge belongs to Bidar district of Karnataka and has experience in state’s politics.

He has been the president of the state Congress. After Congress won the state elections in 2013, his name was also discussed for chief minister’s office, but finally Siddaramaiah was selected.

Besides Khadge, the Congress has another significant Dalit leader- former union minister H Muniyappa. Muniyappa belongs to Gulbarga district and has been MP seven times from the Kolar constituency. He has also been a union minister during the two tenures of UPA and is considered close to the Congress leadership. Another known Dalit face of the Congress is the president of its Karnataka unit, G Parmeshwara.

He had played a key role in gaining victory for Congress in 2013 state elections. But he could not get the chief ministership since he himself lost the election. But this time around, he is not only one of the three prominent Dalit leaders of Congress, but as the Congress sources say, he is a very strong candidate for the post of chief minister. On the other hand, the BJP camp is also rife with discussions. But significantly, there is an aura of despair in this camp.

Political analysts are considering the statement by Yeddyurappa very important in which he, claiming the victory for his party, reduced the number of winning seats from 150 to 125. Reducing the number of seats in one’s statement carries a lot of meaning in political lexicon. Meanwhile, the JD(S) remains upbeat.

The party has realised that the key to power in the state lies with it. May be, that is why, the party supremo Deve Gowda’s son HD Kumaraswami left for Singapore as soon as the voting ended in Karnataka, although it’s being said that he has gone to Singapore for an urgent medical check-up and will possibly be back by Monday night.

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