Bengaluru: The ‘coalition dharma,’ which both the Congress and JD(S) have been chanting for the last seven months in a bid to firm up their unity, has turned out to be a ‘coalition drama’ even before the filing of nominations for the parliamentary elections in the state is over.
The JD(S) was allotted eight seats of the total 28 but could end up fighting from only four while the Congress is witnessing a power struggle between former CM Siddaramaiah and his rivals in the party, which could have an adverse impact on the joint campaign by the coalition partners.
Sources said the JD(S) was left red faced from the day the seat sharing was announced as it had to accept seats where it hardly had a presence. This has raised a big question mark on whether the coalition partners will have an effective joint campaign against the BJP candidates or not. There are many in both the JD(S) and Congress camps who now feel a `friendly fight' would have been much better than the `bitter friendship', which they are witnessing in many constituencies including Tumakuru, Hassan and Mandya.
Of the eight seats it was given, the JD(S) has fielded candidates only in four—Hassan, Mandya, Tumakuru and Shivamogga while in the remaining four constituencies like Udupi-Chikmagaluru, Uttara Kannada and Vijayapura, Congress leaders could fight on the JD(S) or their own symbol. The JD(S) has meekly handed over Bengaluru North, a Vokkaliga dominated constituency to the Congress leaving many red faces in Mr Deve Gowda’s party.
``Going together was a bad idea. We had asked for seats like Mandya, Hassan, Mysuru, Shivamogga, Tumakuru, Chikballapur, Raichur and Bengaluru North, which are Vokkaliga dominated. We did not want to venture into areas where we are not strong. However, the Congress wanted us to take one of the coastal seats(Udupi) instead of Veerappa Moily’s seat (Chikballapur) and we agreed. We were deliberately given Tumakuru instead of Mysuru so that Vokkaligas would go against the JD(S) for depriving a Vokkaliga MP (Muddahanumegowda of Congress ) the ticket. Besides, we were literally forced to give up Bengaluru North. In such circumstances, a joint campaign has no meaning,'' a JD(S) leader fumed. He blamed former CM Siddaramaiah for deliberately instigating Congress workers against the JD(S) wherever JD(S) candidates are contesting.
Even Congress leaders admit to differences among the rank and file of the party, which could affect the poll prospects of the coalition partners. ``There is a young group, which is trying to take control of party affairs. They are targeting senior leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge and Deputy Chief Minister Dr Parameshwar. They are backing Siddaramaiah, who is unhappy with the coalition arrangement. This has created mistrust among the coalition partners and threatens to wreck internal unity. Now, Congress workers are receiving conflicting signals about their role in the elections and are acting independently,'' said a Congress leader.
Though some Congress leaders have expressed solidarity with JD(S) in places like Hassan and Tumakuru, this is not happening in Mandya and Shivamogga. The Mandya row has irked JD(S) leaders to a large extent and they are not willing to take any risk for Congress candidates in the state.
This will have an adverse effect on Congress candidates fighting the BJP in Vokkaliga dominated areas like Chikaballapur, Kolar, Chamarajnagar, Mysuru and other places....