Mayawati to hit campaign trail in Karnataka with JD(S)

After going slow over the alliance with the JD(S) for a while, BSP chief Mayawati is set to hit the campaign trail in Karnataka from Mysuru on April 25.

"Mayawati ji will campaign in the state for candidates of the JD(S) and the BSP for four days covering each of the four regions in the state-Mysuru in south Karnataka, Chitradurga in central Karnataka, Belagavi in Bombay Karnataka and Bidar in North Karnataka," said Danish Ali, JD(S) national general secretary.

"The rallies will be jointly addressed by the BSP chief, JD(S) president H D Deve Gowda and H D Kumaraswamy," Ali added.

The national general secretary negotiated the alliance between the two parties.

Scotching rumours that the alliance was falling apart, Ali told DH that joint rallies will showcase the unity between the two parties when they appeal to the electorate to vote for each other.

However, a party functionary, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the lull in joint activities in Karnataka after the February 17 rally of Mayawati and Deve Gowda may be due to the pressure from the "secular block” on the BSP not to go the whole hog in the state, which could dent the Congress's prospects and benefit the BJP.

A fortnight after the BSP announced a tie-up with the JD(S) on February 8, the Congress inducted expelled BSP leader from Uttar Pradesh Naseemuddin Siddiqui into the party, making its displeasure known over Mayawati's tie-up with the JD(S).

Recent back-channel efforts were made by the Congress to impress upon the BSP that a division of votes in Karnataka would only benefit the BJP.

When Mayawati did not attend a public rally organised by Deve Gowda in his family pocket borough of Hassan on April 2, there were speculations that she was having second thoughts over the alliance, particularly after the SP-BSP surprise wins in Phulpur and Gorakhpur Lok Sabha by-polls.

It is learnt that Ali met the BSP chief in the national capital this week to impress upon her the need for re-starting the joint campaign.

Mayawati will now address rallies at Mysuru and Chitradurga on April 25 and April 26, respectively, and in Belagavi and Bidar on May 5 and May 6, respectively.

While the BSP has decided to contest 20 seats, the JD(S) will be fielding candidates elsewhere.

"The idea is to ensure that the message among Dalit voters in all the four regions is effectively reached. Candidates of both parties could also be brought on the stage when Mayawati and Deve Gowda address the rallies," a source said.

The JD(S) is confident that no government in the state could be formed without it. After forming an alliance with the BSP and with Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM announcing support, the JD(S) is hoping for a Dalit-Muslim consolidation along with its traditionally strong Vokkaliga vote base.

The pre-poll tie-up in Karnataka is the first such alliance that the BSP has entered into since the 1996 tie-up with the Congress in Uttar Pradesh.

The BSP on Wednesday announced a tie-up in Haryana with Om Prakash Chautala's INLD, which insisted that a non-Congress, non-BJP third front will be formed in 2019 under Mayawati's leadership and vowed to make Haryana "BJP-Mukt".

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