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Karnataka election results may pave way for anti-BJP front in 2019

The new equation that has emerged between Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress in Karnataka has the potential to invigorate a larger anti-BJP alliance for 2019.

Karnataka Elections 2018 Updated: May 15, 2018 22:37 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Karnataka Election results,bjp,congress
Outgoing Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah and JD(S) president HD Kumaraswamy address the media after a meeting with governor Rudabhai Vala after assembly election results,in Bengaluru on Tuesday.(PTI Photo)

The new equation that has emerged between Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress in Karnataka on Tuesday has the potential to invigorate a larger anti-BJP alliance for 2019, according to leaders from several Opposition parties.

These parties are now viewing the JD(S), which has been able to retain nearly its 2013 tally in the assembly elections and has chosen a non-BJP path in a bid to form the next government in the state, as a strong regional powerhouse that is ready to work with the Opposition in the next Lok Sabha elections.

People familiar with the developments said that several Opposition leaders had kept communication channels open with former prime minister Deve Gowda and his son, HD Kumaraswamy, even during the run up to the Karnataka polls, and reached out to him immediately after the results became clear.

For example, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, who went to campaign in Karnataka, steered clear of taking a dig at JD(S) while targeting the BJP during rallies, and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee wasted no time in calling the JD(S) patriarch on Tuesday afternoon.

“Clearly, JD(S) held its ground and our performance in terms of vote share have been much better. If we are in an alliance in Karnataka, it’s obviously for 5 years. And this unity will also reflect at the national level. Remember, the Congress had supported Deve Gowda as prime minister in 1996,” said Ramesh.

Parties such as the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, DMK, Telangana Rashtriya Samithi, Trinamool Congress (TMC), and Communist Party of India (Marxist) are keen to see a broad-based pact ahead of the 2019 general elections in a bid to keep the BJP out of power. And after Tuesday’s developments, Deve Gowda is widely seen as the newest entrant in this Opposition grouping.

“It is now clear that what was seen as BJP’s ability to form government has met its match. The election in Karnataka has sent a clear message that Opposition parties must unite. This is the mood of the electorates. JD(S)’s role in Karnataka is an important step for Opposition unity,” said CPI(M) politburo member, Mohammad Salim.

There is a difference in the approach of some these parties even they all want to defeat the BJP. TMC chief Banerjee, for one, wants the Congress to extend support to a federal front of regional parties. But the Congress has made it clear that if it emerges as the biggest party, Rahul Gandhi will step ahead as the prime minister.

A senior TMC leader said from Kolkata that the party feels that “JD(S) will remain a key partner in the federal front and the Congress must accede the driver’s seat to a regional party just as it has done in Karnataka.” Banerjee, on her part, tweeted on Tuesday: “Congratulations to the winners of the Karnataka elections. For those who lost, fight back. If Congress had gone into an alliance with the JD(S), the result would have been different. Very different.”

First Published: May 15, 2018 22:06 IST