S. Rajendran

Bangalore: The understanding between the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) in elections from the local authorities constituencies to the Legislative Council is expected to give a new thrust to the efforts of the secular front in the State to check the growth of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which recorded good victories in the Assembly byelections and the parliamentary polls.

It will also mark the beginning of a new chapter in coalition politics in the State.

In contrast to the Congress whose performance has been unimpressive in elections held after 2008, the Janata Dal (S) has been doing well, securing the second position in the recent byelections. If the alliance does well in the December 18 elections, it will further consolidate the partnership. The electoral alliance has been worked out by leaders at the second level in both the parties.

Former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, on behalf of the Janata Dal (S), and Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Oscar Fernandes have been instrumental in forging the pact, while the JD (S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda and AICC president Sonia Gandhi, though in the background, have given their support to the endeavour. Leaders of the two parties are expected to jointly campaign in some of the constituencies.

President of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee R.V. Deshpande and Mr. Kumaraswamy told The Hindu that the two parties had made a beginning and the joint campaign would help cement the understanding. The Congress and the JD (S) are already together on many issues. The two had come together in mid-2004 to form the first-ever coalition government in the State, which was headed by N. Dharam Singh of the Congress.

The electoral understanding will benefit the two parties in the five two-member constituencies (Dharwad, Belgaum, Bijapur, Mysore and Dakshina Kannada) where the preferential votes will lend a distinct edge to their candidates.

The BJP enjoys considerable clout among voters, more so as it is the ruling party. The electoral understanding will be more beneficial to the Congress than the JD (S) as 19 of the 25 members elected to Legislative Council in the 2003 elections were its candidates.