The drubbing in the Lok Sabha elections, a resurgent BJP and the lack of unity within his own party, combined with a spate of recent controversies surrounding his government have finally forced Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah to bend.
He has publicly sought the help of the Janata Dal (Secular) to defeat BS Yeddyurappa’s son BY Raghavendra in the upcoming by-polls to the Shikaripura assembly seat in Shimoga. Raghavendra starts as a favourite in this seat which his father has represented six times since 1983.
Siddaramaiah justified the pre-poll alliance with the JD(S) by echoing the sentiment expressed by Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar in Bihar and Mulayam Singh in UP. “The BJP is a communal force. All secular forces should unite to defeat it,” he said on Wednesday.
But here’s the real contradiction: While JD(S) workers campaign for the Congress candidate in Shikaripura, their leader and former CM HD Kumaraswamy is railing against Siddaramaiah and his government in the state capital.
As the JDU-RJD drama plays out in Bihar, it is hard to ignore the similarities between Siddaramaiah, 66, who is from the backward Kuruba community, and Nitish, 63, who is a Kurmi.
What’s more, both the socialist leaders rose to become chief ministers less than a decade after they split from the parties that they helped form.
Like Nitish, Siddaramaiah’s relation with his former party — particularly Deve Gowda and his son Kumaraswamy — has been defined by a bitterness that exceeds mere political rivalry.