The Janata Dal (Secular)‘s poor show in the recently concluded elections to Legislative Council signals declining strength of the regional party over the last couple of years in the Upper House, where the party’s numbers mattered in important votes that the House witnessed. While the regional party’s strength has reduced drastically, the period has also marked the improved numbers of the ruling BJP, which now has the majority in the House for the first time.
Seven big losses
The party has lost seven seats since November 2020, that includes two of its members moving away to BJP from where they have won. Those who migrated to saffron party are former Chairman Basavaraj Horatti, who won the record eighth time from Karnataka West Teachers constituency on Wednesday, and MLC Puttanna, who won from Bangalore Teachers constituency in November 2020. Another former JD(S) leader, A. Deve Gowda, moved to the BJP to win from Bangalore Graduates constituency.
In the results announced on Wednesday/Thursday, the regional party lost two seats that it held. Earlier, last month, while two of its members elected from the Legislative Assembly retired, the party could win only one seat since it did not have enough numbers to retain the second. The party also lost two of the four seats it held from local bodies authorities for which elections were held in December, 2021. Another MLC, Marithibbe Gowda, elected from Karnataka South Teachers constituency has also moved away from the party, and is headed to the Congress.
The importance of the regional party in the seat matrix and the politics that played out in the House in the recent years came to fore when as recently as in 2020 when the JD(S) votes mattered for the combined Opposition to defeat the amendments brought to the labour laws by the ruling BJP.
Earlier, in 2017, when the first ever no confidence motion in the over hundred year history of the Upper House was moved against the then Chairman D.H. Shankaramurthy, the veteran BJP leader survived by a wafer thin margin of one vote as the JD(S) came to his rescue. The regional party got its then member Mr. Horatti elected as chairman of the House with the support of BJP in February 2021.
Hit by inconsistencies
“The JD(S) has been seriously affected by leaders moving out, particularly in graduates and teachers constituencies. The inconsistencies in leadership aligning with the BJP on some issues and with the Congress on the other has left their MLCs confused,” said a long-time political observer. “Frequent changing of political partners have confused the party’s core voter base too.”
The outcome, over the years, has been that the party that once held 15 seats in the 75-member Upper House and had a big voice in the House debates, especially on issues pertaining to education, teachers and rural development among many others, now has eight seats.
Former Chairman and Congress leader B.L. Shankar observed that polarisation is happening on a serious note in the elections to the Legislative Council seats in the last couple of years. “The BJP, which had base in urban centres, northern, and coastal Karnataka, has been pushing its way through in the Council polls. The decline of the JD(S) has helped the Congress in the South and the BJP in the North,” said Mr. Shankar, who was with Janata Parivar earlier.