Bengaluru: The BJP will have an understanding with former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda-led JD(S) for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, former Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said on Friday, an announcement that shot up political temperature in the State. The veteran leader, who is also the BJP parliamentary board member, said that as part of the poll understanding, the JD(S) will contest in four Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka, which has a total of 28 constituencies.
“I’m happy about that, Deve Gowda ji has met our Prime Minister, and already they have finalised four seats. I welcome that…. I feel happy, BJP and JD(S) will have an understanding. Amit Shah (Union Home Minister) has agreed to give four Lok Sabha seats (to JD(S)),” the four-time Chief Minister said in response to a question. Speaking to reporters here, he said, “this has given us great strength, and this will help us in winning 25 or 26 Lok Sabha seats together.” .
The BJP swept the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka by winning 25 seats, while an independent (Sumalatha Ambareesh from Mandya) backed by it won in one seat. The Congress and JD(S) won one seat each.
In the elections to the 224-member Assembly held in May this year, the Congress bagged 135 seats, while the BJP secured 66 and the JD(S) 19. Following the Assembly poll results, there were reports that JD(S) would enter into an alliance with the BJP to fight the Lok Sabha polls. It was also said that the JD(S) leader had met BJP central leadership in Delhi in this regard.
However, subsequently JD(S) supremo Deve Gowda, had indicated that the party will contest Lok Sabha polls alone. JD(S) had contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in alliance with the Congress, as both parties were then running an alliance government under the Chief Ministership of Gowda’s son H D Kumaraswamy.
While Gowda had then lost the polls in Tumakuru, his grandson Prajwal Revanna, was the only winning JD(S) candidate, who had emerged victorious in the party’s home turf of Hassan. According to BJP sources, the talks on understanding have taken place between BJP central leadership and JD(S) top brass, and state leaders don’t have much clarity on this.
BJP may cede Hassan and Bengaluru Rural seats, where it doesn’t have sitting MPs, to JD(S), sources said, adding that after deliberations things may be clear in the days to come about the seats, as names of seats like Mandya, Tumakuru, Kolar and Chikkaballapura are also doing rounds.
Responding to a question on poll understanding with JD(S), state BJP President Nalin Kumar Kateel said, “discussions have begun. Now we have 25 plus one 26, we will do all the preparations required to win all the 28 seats.”. In the days to come a plan of action will be arrived at, he said, adding “we will sit and discuss in the days ahead regarding the poll strategy and preparations.” .
Another former Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Basavaraj Bommai said, “we have jointly fought against this evil (Congress) government both inside and outside the legislature on several issues. Naturally, to save Karnataka it is necessary for the opposition parties to unite. In that context these discussions are significant. Everything will come out in the days to come.” Kumaraswamy in July had said that his party had decided to work together as an opposition with the BJP, in the interest of the state, and both parties had tried to corner the Congress government unitedly, during the monsoon session of the state legislature recently.
Following the Assembly poll debacle, BJP, wary of its performance in the Lok Sabha elections, is open for an alliance with JD(S), aimed at regaining maximum number of seats, sources from both parties said, adding, it hopes JD(S) votes may get transferred to it, especially in the old Mysuru region where the regional party has significant presence.
For JD(S), it is a matter of survival, and the party hopes to better its prospects by forging an alliance with BJP in the backdrop of Congress’ reported attempts to weaken it by wooing its leaders, they said.
Not willing to make any comment on the development, JD(S) state President C M Ibrahim said, party national President Deve Gowda will make a detailed statement on this.
“So far no discussions have taken place regarding this on the party forum. On September 10, we have called a party workers meeting, we will gather opinions there. There is a Core Committee headed by senior party MLA G T Devegowda, after touring across the state whatever report they will give, based on that we will take a decision,” he said.
JD(S) Core Committee chief G T Devegowda said, “Kumaraswamy has good relationship with BJP leaders and they are in talks with him and me, but the decision will be arrived at after discussion based on certain yardstick.”.
Alleging atrocities by the Congress dispensation on JD(S) workers and leaders in various places, he said the party is of the view that to defeat Congress in Lok Sabha polls, it is necessary to have an alliance with BJP. This was brought to the notice of the party leadership and national president at a recent meeting.
Meanwhile, reacting to the development, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said he is not bothered about the poll pact between the BJP and JD(S) for the Lok Sabha elections saying the people will back the Congress party. Speaking to media persons he said, “Whether there will be an alliance or whether they will fight separately, I am not bothered”.
“We will appeal to the people to vote. People are with us. They will vote for us,” the chief minister said when his reaction was sought. Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar, termed the development as not new.
“Let them do it (have an understanding)….earlier too they had done it when Ashokanna (BJP leader R Ashoka) and Kumaranna (Kumaraswamy) had come together in the previous (BJP-JDS coalition) government. Nothing wrong, let them do anything for their survival. But my question is how their (JDS) ideology works? Deve Gowda in earlier situations had ruled out alliance with BJP,” he said.
Raising questions on JD(S)’ survival in the future, Shivakumar, who is also the state Congress chief, said, “It is left for them. They would have built a party based on an ideology… I don’t know what will happen to their party, their legislators, former legislators. It is left for them.” .
JD(S) had earlier formed governments in coalition with both BJP and Congress respectively for 20 months from January 2006, and for 14 months from May 2018, with Kumaraswamy as the Chief Minister.