Despite odds, JD(S) makes a decent comeback

Despite odds, JD(S) makes a decent comeback

Supporters of Janata Dal (Secular) celebrate outside the governor's house in Bengaluru, India, May 15, 2018. REUTERS

The JD(S), which entered the battlefield with just 28 sitting MLAs, has made a decent comeback by winning 38 seats. The party had won just two additional seats (40) in 2013 assembly elections.

The regional party which had stayed out of power for over a decade was desperate to savour a victory. Though it was never confident of gaining an absolute majority, the party was hoping to garner enough numbers, so that it could form the government by hook or crook.

To achieve this, the father-son duo - H D Deve Gowda and H D Kumaraswamy even put aside their differences (to a certain extent) and announced its first list of candidates way back in February -- much before the BJP and the Congress did.

The party even formed a pre-poll alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), by announcing 20 seats for the Uttar Pradesh party. It had even received a shot in the arm with the regional party leaders from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh - K Chandrasekhar Rao (Telangana Rashtra Samithi), N Chandrababu Naidu (Telugu Desam Party) and Asaduddin Owaisi (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) providing external support.

The party also exposed itself to ridicule by the Congress, after it resorted to a tacit understanding with the BJP, especially in the old Mysuru region. The sole aim of both parties was to corner Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on his home turf.

The Congress was however quick to term the JD(S), BJP’s B team. To make matters worse for the JD(S), Prime Minister Narendra Modi added to the speculations of an alliance between the two parties, by lavishly praising H D Deve Gowda at a rally in Udupi. After the Congress was quick to use this as an ammunition, Modi decided to attack the JD(S), by asking the electorate to reject the party as it had associated itself with “terrorists” and “extremists”. Modi was making a reference to JD(S)’s association with the AIMIM.

Just like the Congress and the BJP, the JD(S) too was witness to infighting and rebellion, which drastically brought down its numbers ahead of the elections. By the time of filing of nominations, the party was left with a mere 28 MLAs.

While one of its MLAs -- Chikkamadu, representing H D Kote passed away on November 1, 2017, the remaining 11 MLAs defected to the BJP or the Congress.

The internal rebellion started way back in 2016, during the Rajya Sabha elections, when seven of its MLAs turned. The MLAs, led by Zameer Ahmed Khan had cross-voted in favour of the Congress candidate K C Ramamurthy, leading to the defeat of its own party candidate B M Farooq. Though the party had suspended the seven legislators, they had however continued to remain in the party.

The seven indulged in cross-voting even during the recently concluded (March) Rajya Sabha elections, leading to the defeat of Farooq yet again. Congress’s third candidate G C Chandrashekar had bagged a victory.

The seven had finally quit the party and had officially joined the Congress on March 25, while former MLAs Manappa Vajjal, Mallikarjun Khuba and Shivaraj Patil had joined the BJP.