JD(S) projects itself as alternative to Cong, BJP

JD(S) projects itself as alternative to Cong, BJP

The JD(S) faced many setbacks in the run-up to the polls.

Having been away from power for more than a decade now, the H D Kumaraswamy-led JD(S), in an alliance with the BSP, is making an all-out effort to hold the reins of power in the state.

The regional party is putting up a formidable fight against the two national parties — the Congress and the BJP — though its presence is largely confined to the Old Mysore region and some pockets of central Karnataka. It is promoting itself as an alternative to these national parties, using achievements of the then coalition government headed by Kumaraswamy as its trump card.

The JD(S) faced many setbacks in the run-up to the polls. Close to a dozen MLAs quit the party in protest, and while the ruling Congress poached seven of its MLAs (N Chaluvarayaswamy, Ramesh Bandesidde Gowda, H C Balakrishna, Zameer Ahmed Khan, Akhanda Srinivasmurthy, Iqbal Ansari and Bheema Naik), the BJP wooed three others from north Karnataka (Dr Shivraj Patil, Manappa Vajjal and Mallikarjun Khuba).

The JD(S) suffered a humiliating defeat in the Rajya Sabha polls — where the MLAs are the voters — held a few weeks ago due to rebellion in the party. Many of its prominent Muslim leaders jumped ship to other parties in the past few years, dealing a blow to the regional party that used to harp on its secular credentials.

Moreover, Kumaraswamy’s health deteriorated just when the party was about to launch its campaign. With party workers’ morale at its lowest ebb, some political analysts had almost written off the JD(S) as far as its prospects in the Assembly polls were concerned.

However, the regional party not only managed to cope with all the challenges but also gradually consolidated its position, especially in the Vokkaliga belt of Old Mysore region. So much so that JD(S) candidates are now giving sleepless nights to their rivals in this region, including Chief Minister Siddaramaiah who is contesting from Chamundeshwari constituency in Mysuru district.

Alliance with the Mayawati-led BSP and support from the Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM has also come as a shot in the arm for the JD(S). Pre-poll alliance with the BSP is expected to fetch Dalit votes, which can give the JD(S) a winning edge in many constituencies. The BSP is contesting from 20 seats, as per the seat-sharing agreement.

Similarly, the AIMIM has a considerable following in many constituencies in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region and in some parts of Bengaluru. The AIMIM’s unconditional support came at a time when the Congress had launched a scathing attack questioning the secular credentials of the JD(S). The chief minister had also accused the JD(S) of having a tacit understanding with the BJP, a move aimed at consolidating Muslim votes in the Congress’ favour.

Despite this, the JD(S) could not find potential candidates to contest the polls in several constituencies in Bengaluru, Bombay-Karnataka, Hyderabad-Karnataka and coastal Karnataka. With opinion polls predicting a hung Assembly, the JD(S) is hoping to play the role of a king-maker, if not the king, post the elections.