In Karnataka, BJP-JD(S) ‘secret pact’ worries Congress
Speculations are rife that the BJP may prop up a ‘weak candidate’ to ensure JD(S) victory in Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah’s seatKarnataka Elections 2018 Updated: Apr 20, 2018 00:03 IST
The Congress party’s jibe last month that the Janata Dal (Secular) was nothing more than the ‘B’ Team of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may have been made to score a political point, but it seems to have come true in part with party workers claiming the existence of a “secret pact” between the two parties to ensure the defeat of chief minister Siddaramaiah and his son Yathindra .
Siddaramaiah will contest from the Chamundeshwari seat, after having vacated the Varuna seat, which he won in 2008 and 2013 to his son Yathindra. In Chamundeshwari, Siddaramaiah will square off against his former aide GT Deve Gowda of the Janata Dal (not to be confused with party patriarch HD Deve Gowda), while in Varuna, Yathindra is set to contest against Vijayendra, the son of the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, BS Yeddyurappa.
The BJP is yet to announced Vijayendra’s candidature, although party insiders say this is merely a formality.
The proxy war between Siddaramaiah and Yeddyurappa, through their sons, in Varuna has been much talked about. However, workers of all three parties claim the BJP is likely to field a weak candidate in Chamundeshwari, to ensure Deve Gowda’s victory.
In return, they say, the JD (S) will return the favour in Varuna to ensure Vijayendra’s victory. A senior JD(S) leader said that while he is not aware of any pact in Chamundeshwari, the party’s candidate in Varuna hasn’t been very active since Vijayendra landed up in the constituency.
A senior BJP leader would only say that the party would put up strong candidates in both constituencies.
State Congress working president Dinesh Gundu Rao said the pact was not secret at all. “We had received information that they had held talks and it is not just these two seats, such pacts are being made across the state by the parties to ensure their victory.”
Political analyst Narendar Pani, faculty at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, said such personal agreements on seats, without a larger pact at the party level, is quite common. He added that there also seems to be a personal pact between JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy and Congress leader and energy minister DK Shivakumar to defeat the BJP candidate in Channapatna in Ramnagara district.
“These pacts are generally personal and not at the party level, except for the one that seems to have been put in place in Varuna and Chamundeshwari,” Pani said. “There is clear antipathy for both parties against Siddaramaiah, but any consolidation of these dominant caste votes will play into his hands,” he said.
Pani’s reference is to the Vokkaligas in Chamundeshwari and the Lingayats in Varuna. “Siddaramaiah is projecting himself as the person who challenged these groups’ control.”
To insure himself against the secret pact, Siddaramiah is said to be contemplating contesting from a second seat of Badami in North Karnataka.
Although the Congress announced a candidate from Badami, he has not filed his nomination yet.