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Congress and JD(S) seal poll pact in Karnataka with 20-8 seat formula

The Congress did cede Tumkur, which it had won last time, to its alliance partner but refused to give up other seats that it had won in the 2014 elections

lok sabha elections Updated: Mar 14, 2019 07:13 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Lok Sabha elections 2019,2019 elections,Congress
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy with Congress President Rahul Gandhi in this file photo.(PTI)

Karnataka ruling partners Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) on Wednesday announced a 20-8 deal for the 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Negotiations between the allies had dragged over two months with the two unable to arrive at a consensus on key seats, including those in southern Karnataka. The JD(S) had initially demanded 12 seats, of which four were won by the Congress in 2014.

According to the seat-share deal, the JD(S) will contest the Bijapur, Uttara Kannada, Udupi-Chikkamagaluru, Shimoga, Hassan, Mandya, Bengaluru North and Tumkur seats. Crucially, the regional party has given up its claim over the Mysuru seat, which is at the heart of the Vokkaliga-dominated region it is strong in.

The Congress had to give up its claim on Tumkur, one of nine seats it won in 2014. But it managed to hold on to its other seats despite pressure from the JD(S).

Karnataka Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao confirmed the deal in a tweet: “@INCIndia @JanataDal_S seat sharing for Karnataka #LokSabhaPolls2019 is confirmed. 20 for Congress and 8 for JDS.”

Local leaders of both parties had expressed anxiety over the delay in announcing the pact with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) starting its campaign a month ago. Both parties have set out to reverse the trend of BJP dominance in the state in the Lok Sabha polls. In 2014, it won 17 seats in the state, down from 19 in 2009.

Gundu Rao said the seat-share talks were amicable and reflected the relative strengths of the two parties. “Ideally, we would have liked to have 22 seats but it is a question of give and take in a coalition,” he said.

Congress leaders were happy the party had managed to retain a majority of its incumbent seats, he said. “Getting Mysuru is good because giving up Mandya and Hassan was a big blow to us. We also had to give up our claim on Tumkur that we won last time,” he said.

Gundu Rao said both parties could now begin campaigning in earnest. “The agreement also sends a message to our workers to begin campaigning and has removed any uncertainty in their minds,” he said.

Repeated attempts to contact JD(S) state president AH Vishwanath and party national secretary General Danish Ali went unanswered. The pact was finalised in Kochi where Ali met Congress president Rahul Gandhi, a JD(S) leader said, not wishing to be named. A meeting between the two in the morning was cancelled as Gandhi had to campaign in Tamil Nadu.

First Published: Mar 13, 2019 20:26 IST