The meeting between former Chief Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy and Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar on Monday at New Delhi has sparked off speculations over a possible alignment between the two JD factions in the State ahead of the elections to Assembly next year, and more so for the general elections in 2024.
While discussions on a possible electoral understanding to counter BJP unitedly are on the way, JD(S) sources here did not rule out a possible merger of the two factions that split in 1999 though discussions are in preliminary stages. The merger, sources said, would give the combined entity strength to take leadership mantle of the bloc opposed to the BJP. Mr. Nitish Kumar is also likely to visit JD(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda if the formal plans firm up in the coming days, sources said.
The JD(U) has seen its strength diminished in Karnataka as it has not been able to win an Assembly constituency since 2008 elections due to desertion of many leaders. The JD(U) state unit is also believed to be in crossroads after a more recent split in 2017 following expulsion of Sharad Yadav, who formed Lokatantrik Janata Dal (LJD) only to announce merger with Rashtriya Janata Dal of Lalu Prasad Yadav earlier this year.
“A possible understanding could get JD(S) some traction in constituencies in North and Central Karnataka region. Any understanding between the two parties could bring about 2% votes that can boost the party’s overall tally. More importantly, this could help Mr. Kumaraswamy emerge on the national scene,” sources added. “Remaining with the anti-BJP forces will also help the JD(S) secure minority votes. Besides, it may prevent leaders from deserting the party.”
Merging all factions
According to JD(S) president C.M. Ibrahim, talks revolved around merging all Janata Parivar factions functioning in different names in different States. “In Karnataka, the merger could send strong optics to the electorate that a regional party is becoming stronger,” he said.
Meanwhile, for those in the splinter JD(U) groups the talks at the national level has brought some hope that the socialist and Janata background could unify for a common cause. “The acceptability will increase for JD(S) as the unified entity will become a national party. People are looking for alternatives. The new Janata Dal could be that,” said former legislator M.P. Nadagouda, who went with JD(U) in 1999 but later identified with Mr. Sharad Yadav in 2017.