S Gopinath Reddy

Is Deve Gowda’s JD (S) going to play spoilsport for the ruling Congress in the May 12 elections in Karnataka?

The JD (S) seemed to have gained some ground during the last two months even as the Congress and BJP are locking horns indicating a bitter fight in the prestigious elections for both Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Congress has announced its list of party nominees for 219 of the 224 Assembly seats at one go. The list seems to have the stamp of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. He ensured tickets to all the ten leaders, who have defected from JD (S) a couple of months ago. A few of the party MLCs too find place in the list. The BJP is also busy finalizing the list. No wonder, both BJP and Congress are fielding dominant Lingayat and Vokkaliga candidates to win the elections.

A pitched battle is on cards with Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah sparing more time for Karnataka in the next four weeks to come. Accusations and counter accusations are flying thick and fast.

While Congress and BJP are busy fighting it out, JD (S) and its star campaigner Kumaraswamy are making inroads into the Congress and BJP bastions silently. With a couple of pre-poll surveys indicating a hung Assembly, Kumaraswamy is busy garnering support from new friends.

A few days ago, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao called on former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and extended his support to the party in the forthcoming elections. Rao even called upon the Telugus residing in Karnataka, who are sizeable in number and play a deciding role in Karnataka politics, to support JD (S). Kumaraswamy received a shot in the arm with Hyderabad MP and All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen president Asaduddin Owaisi's announcement that his party will not contest the Karnataka elections. Instead, AIMIM will support JD (S) in the elections.

AIMIM has its president in erstwhile Hyderabad Karnataka region and also in some party of central and West Karnataka. The Left Parties, which have a very limited presence have also pledged their support to Kumaraswamy.

The JD (S) leader is drawing huge crowds for his series of meetings attacking both Congress and BJP. With the hitherto “insignificant JD (S)” growing in strength, the BJP and Congress are reshaping their strategy.