AIPJD may tie up with Janata Party for Council polls

Bangalore NOV. 13. The All-India Progressive Janata Dal (AIPJD), headed by the former Chief Minister, S.R. Bommai, and the Janata Party, led by the Rajya Sabha member and industrialist, Vijay Mallya, are said to be working out an electoral understanding for the coming elections to the Legislative Council. If the talks make progress, there could be an understanding between the parties in the elections to the Legislative Assembly. This will mark the beginning of a new alignment between Janata Dal factions in the State.

The AIPJD and the Janata Party have a common rival in the JD(S) headed by the former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, and this has apparently prompted them to forge an understanding though several former Ministers and senior AIPJD leaders are against any association with the Janata Party. Reports say the objective is to obtain a major chunk of JD votes by ensuring that the two-party combine is the main rival to the Congress.

After a series of confabulations among senior leaders, the AIPJD has decided to contest 20 of the 25 seats in the Legislative Council for which elections are to be held on December 1. The electorate comprises the members of municipalities, city municipal corporation councils, town municipal councils, and zilla, town, and gram panchayats. Each constituency will have about 1.5 lakh voters, and the elected representatives will have a six-year term. The ruling party has the maximum number of retiring members.

The AIPJD State unit President, K.N. Nage Gowda, says informal discussions that could lead to an electoral understanding with the Janata Party have been initiated. The Janata Party is expected to extend support as it did in the byelection from the Vemgal Assembly constituency, where the AIPJD candidate won by a big margin.

Mr. Mallya, Working President of the Janata Party, told The Hindu here today that there was no question of forging an electoral alliance with the JD(S). "If the AIPJD is willing to finalise an electoral understanding with the Janata Party, it is welcome to do so. This should mark the beginning of a long-term understanding. We would like to prove to the people and to the ruling party that we are the credible alternative," he said. As of now, the Janata Party is said to be gearing up to contest four seats. This will be its first major election for the Janata Party after its rejuvenation.

Mr. Nage Gowda says it is unlikely that the party supremo, Ramakrishna Hegde's services will be sought to bring about an understanding since he is not in good health. "Mr. Hegde is highly respected by Mr. Mallya, and it is therefore natural that he will cooperate." The view in the AIPJD and Janata Party camps is that the morale of JD(S) leaders is low.The AIPJD is holding discussions with the CPI and the Raitha Sangha to consolidate votes and ensure the victory of at least ten candidates.

The AIPJD has finalised a first list of candidates, and candidates for other constituencies are expected to be finalised tomorrow, the last day for filing nominations.

Those for the Chikmagalur and Kodagu constituencies will be finalised by the local party leaders.

The AIPJD will not contest in double-member constituencies such as Mangalore.

The list of AIPJD candidates: Shivananda Koujalgi (Belgaum), Basavaraj Bommai (Dharwad), Trishul Pani Patel (Shimoga), Gaddi Gowdar (Bijapur), B.T. Channabasappa (Chitradurga), H. Honnappa (Mandya), Pampanna Gowda (Bellary), Harish Shetty (Karwar), M. Narayanaswamy (Bangalore Rural), Vrishabendrappa (Mysore), Kalyan Rao Patil (Bidar), Shivasharana Nigudagi (Gulbarga), and Somala Naik (Tumkur).