JD(S) leaders going soft on BJP has kept everyone guessing on its future move


JD(S), which lost three MLAs to ‘Operation Lotus’, is besieged with internal dissatisfaction with at least half a dozen MLAs out of the remaining 34 expected to leave the party.

The past fortnight has seen conflicting signals emerging from the Janata Dal (Secular) leadership, keeping everyone guessing on the regional party’s future trajectory in the State.

Former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has said that he will not allow the Bharatiya Janata Party government to fall “in the interest of people”, while his father and party supremo H.D. Deve Gowda has said that the BJP central leaders would want midterm polls instead of a “hotchpotch government.” Now, a section of the JD(S) leaders have openly stated that they are for the party siding with the BJP.

These come at a time when the political situation in Karnataka is in a state of flux with the fate of disqualified legislators to be known soon and the bypolls slated for December 5 likely to cast their shadow on the B.S. Yediyurappa government.

The JD(S), meanwhile, is fighting to maintain its relevance. The party, which lost three MLAs to ‘Operation Lotus’, is besieged with internal dissatisfaction with at least half a dozen MLAs out of the remaining 34 expected to leave the party. At least 11 out of the 16 MLCs have aired their dissatisfaction in public with the functioning of Mr. Kumaraswamy. Though there was talk of a Malayasian trip for legislators to discuss internal issues, Mr. Kumaraswamy has ruled out the possibility now and announced that he is headed to London for a shoot with his actor-son. This trip is curious at a time when the party is fraught with problems. There is much debate on why Mr. Kumaraswamy is keen to help the BJP government survive. While a quid pro quo arrangement through back channel talks between the JD(S) and the BJP to save the government is said to be on, Mr. Kumaraswamy has refuted the speculation that softening of his stand towards the BJP is linked to CBI enquiries into phone-tapping and IMA cases.

JD(S) sources reveal that the political situation post bypolls could offer different dimensions to the party. With both the Congress and the JD(S) expecting the BJP to perform poorly in the bypolls that could reduce the government to a minority, the JD(S) leadership believes that it could result in re-formation of a coalition or lead to midterm polls.

At the same time, the JD(S) leadership is also worried about more defections from its camp weakening its base and power, and thus, its bargaining power too in the next government if there is a fractured verdict. In fact, the announcement of not toppling the BJP government by Mr. Kumaraswamy is being seen not only as a tactic to keep his legislators wishing to join the BJP under check, but also to send a signal that he was prepared to spare the State from a midterm poll. This will also prevent a possible re-emergence of his bête noire Siddaramaiah.

Now, with party leader Basavaraj Horatti openly stating that most of the legislators are not averse to JD(S) joining hands with the ruling BJP, how Mr. Gowda would respond to this is being watched with great curiosity. It is learnt that Mr. Gowda and Mr. Kumaraswamy are still not on the same page on the issue. Interestingly, Mr. Kumaraswamy said on Saturday that he has never defied his father since 2006, when he formed a government with the BJP, supposedly against Mr. Gowda’s wishes.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 5:56:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/of-conflicting-signals-and-survival-tactics/article29872579.ece

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