Cong top brass approves pre-poll pact with JD(S)

Siddaramaiah

The Congress top brass on Monday gave its approval to the state leaders to forge a pre-poll alliance in Karnataka with the JD(S) for the coming Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress Committee on Alliance headed by the party's General Secretary Ashok Gehlot decided to form an alliance and have a seat-sharing arrangement with the Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told reporters here after the meeting.

However, the panel authorised the state leaders to hold discussions with the JD(S) leadership on the sharing of seats for the polls.

Later on Monday evening, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy welcomed the Congress leadership's decision.

The meeting was attended by All India Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary Karnataka in-charge K C Venugopal, the leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjuna Kharge and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Dinesh Gundu Rao.

At the meeting, Gehlot asked the state leaders to hold talks with the party's district units before deciding on sharing seats.

Gehlot also asked the state leaders to quell any dissidence in the districts to prevent harming the winning prospects of the candidates of the alliance parties. 

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress won nine seats and the JD(S) won two of the total 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

The state leaders are learnt to have told Gehlot that the Congress should retain all the nine seats which it won in the last election. The talks should be held with JD(S) only for sharing the remaining 19 seats, said a leader.

Gehlot asked the state leaders to hold talks with the JD(S) and come to an understanding at the earliest.

However, a senior leader in the Congress said that a seat-sharing agreement with the JD(S) could be challenging as the JD(S) expressed its desire to contest all seats in South Karnataka including Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Tumakuru and Bangaluru Rural where the sitting MPs belong to Congress.

The argument the JD(S) put forth is that since it has a strong presence in South Karnataka due to sizable Vokkaliga community votes, these seats should be given to them.

When K C Venugopal recently held a meeting with local leaders to seek their opinion on seat sharing, some of the districts units strongly opposed an alliance with the JD(S) saying this would erode the Congress vote base in the state.

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Cong top brass approves pre-poll pact with JD(S)

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