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Immense benefit for JD(S), too little for Congress

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BENGALURU: Local Congress leaders are worried that the decision of the high command to form an

alliance with the JD(S) for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls
— a bid to oust the BJP from the Centre — could prove counter-productive for the party in the long run and benefit JD(S).

Their apprehensions are not without reason, as the

JD(S) has a strong presence only in the Old Mysuru region
and the Congress, for the past couple of decades, is its biggest rival. The BJP is yet to get a foothold in the region.

With an alliance in place, the JD(S) is likely to sail through elections by making use of the well-nurtured vote bank of the Congress in the region. However, beyond the Old Mysuru region, the Congress can expect little or no help from the JD(S) since the party has little or no presence and will have to fight the BJP on its own.

The voteshare of the JD(S) in Lok Sabha elections — 13% in 2009 and 11% in 2014 — holds a mirror to this fact. Nearly 75% of votes the party polled came from the Old Mysuru region. Its share from the other regions was negligible. In some districts of North Karnataka, the party’s voteshare was less than 1%.

“These figures show that Congress is not going to benefit from its alliance with JD(S) in any way,” says political analyst Mahadev Prakash.

More importantly though, both Congress and JD(S) have been heavily dependent on the Old Mysuru region to win seats in the Lok Sabha elections, especially since the BJP has established its grip in north, coastal and central Karnataka. It is evident from the fact that Congress won five out of nine seats in 2014 and four out of six seats in 2009 in this region alone. The JD(S) has not won a single Lok Sabha seat outside the Old Mysuru region for the past three general elections.

Cautious Congress may give JD(S) upper hand

Having accorded unconditional support to JD(S), Congress will not seek any plum portfolios or indulge in hard bargaining with its regional partner, sources in the grand old party said. It is not likely to put in any pre-condition of sharing power on a 20:20 basis (as was done when JD(S)- BJP were in alliance in 2006) either, thereby surrendering control of the government to JD(S) till the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

This makes the task of sharing seats problematic. While the Congress will find it difficult to concede any of the five seats — Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Tumakuru, Bengaluru Rural and Chamarajnagar — it is currently holding, the JD(S) may not compromise on the two seats — Hassan and Mandya — it holds.

“This is where the conflict will arise and the Congress will have to compromise and give away some seats to JD(S) in the Old Mysuru region,” Prakash suggested. “The JD(S) may ask for Mysuru, Tumakuru and Chikkaballapur claiming that they are all Vokkaliga dominated seats.”

However, V S Ugrappa, Congress MLC, sees the alliance as a win-win for both parties. “I am confident that JD(S) will not ask for more seats in LS polls,” he said. “For argument sake, even if we end up compromising on some seats in Old-Mysuru, this alliance will send the right signal to the people in other parts of the state and help anti-BJP votes consolidate in favour of Congress. This alliance has been forged keeping national interest in mind.”

Updated: June 6, 2018 — 7:01 am

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