HD Deve Gowda, Narendra Modi
JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda with PM Narendra Modi. File photo: Twitter/ Deve Gowda

Karnataka: Why BJP-JD(S) alliance looks certain for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls

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After the severe drubbing at the recent Assembly elections, the BJP and the JD(S) in Karnataka are keen to counter the ruling Congress, which has set the target of winning at least 20 of the 28 seats in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

For that, the two parties plan to have a tie-up, and if our sources are to be believed, an alliance is almost confirmed.

Sources say of the two parties, the BJP is keen on the alliance with JD(S).

A BJP leader describes the situation with a Kannada proverb, “nayi hasidittu, anna halasittu” (the dog is hungry, and at the same time, the rice also turned stale). The BJP’s political poll strategy team is learnt to have communicated ‘orally’ to the party high command on the ‘unavoidable’ prerequisite to join hands with the JD(S) to secure at least 15 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in the coming polls.

‘JD(S) warming up to BJP’

“Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and HD Deve Gowda are aware of the ground political reality in Karnataka. They have reconciled to the fact that the coming together of BJP-JD (S) is inevitable. Modi has a cordial relationship with Deve Gowda. Amit Shah and Modi realised the limitations of state leadership and they will take appropriate decisions at an appropriate time. One thing is certain: BJP-JD(S) will align for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. It is just a question of seat-sharing between the parties,” sources in the BJP told The Federal.

Also read: The Deve Gowda interview: Why JD(S) won’t attend big Opposition meet in Patna

The BJP, which garnered 26 of the 28 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, is not confident of crossing even 15 seats in view of the party’s internal conflicts and the Congress’s united fight to get at least 20 seats from Karnataka.

“The plan is to sacrifice 8 seats to JD(S) and contest the rest of the 20 constituencies. This will facilitate the support of the Vokkaliga vote bank in the old Mysuru region,” said a senior BJP leader, seeking anonymity.

BJP leaders argue that the JD(S) is warming up to the BJP, citing Deve Gowda attending the inauguration of the New Parliament House even as 20 Opposition parties boycotted, and HD Kumaraswamy defending the Centre’s stand in the 10-kg free rice guarantee scheme of the Congress.

HDK favours subtle understanding

JD(S) sources say,  “Kumaraswamy is not as enthusiastic as Deve Gowda in aligning with the BJP. He is against an open tie-up, but discreetly favours subtle understanding, citing the defeat of Siddaramaiah in 2018 Assembly polls in Chamundeshwari constituency.”

It is said that the BJP has transferred its votes to JD(S) candidate G T Deve Gowda.

For the JD(S), a question of survival

 “However, now it is a question of survival for the JD(S). In the bargain, JD(S) may claim for more than 8 seats and the BJP may sacrifice  Hassan, Mandya, Bengaluru Rural, Chikkaballapura and Tumkur for JDS,” said a source, hinting at talks on seat-sharing between the JD(S) and the BJP.

Also read: BJP’s post-mortem of Karnataka loss betrays numerous cracks within

Referring to JD(S)’s miserable performance in Mandya, with its vote-share dipping to 13.9 per cent, a BJP leader said, “Presently, the JD(S) is not in a position to bargain for more than these five constituencies as its position in state politics has shrunk after Assembly polls. Deve Gowda understood the fact that the road ahead for the party could be rough. Any slip in Lok Sabha polls leads to further shrinking of vote share to less than 10%. He doesn’t want his party to become irrelevant in view of the forthcoming elections to local bodies and the Lok Sabha. Deve Gowda also smelt the vacuum created in the state BJP leadership and wanted to exploit the situation.”

The  BJP needs allies

Interestingly, not everyone in the BJP is in favour of an alliance with the JD(S), saying that the JD(S) would benefit more than the BJP.

“Following speculation of JD(S) aligning with the BJP, over a dozen sitting MPs are not showing any interest in contesting the Lok Sabha election this time,” a BJP leader said.

Nevertheless,  they admit that the BJP needs allies, with Opposition parties gearing up to confront the NDA.

Modi and Amit Shah both are trying to keep ‘good’ relations with Naveen Patnaik of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Kumaraswamy of the JD(S), the AIADMK and Chandrababu Naidu of the TDP, following the BJP’s performance in Karnataka. In fact, Karnataka is crucial for its ambitious idea of expanding its footprint below the Vindhyas.

BJP to deny tickets to 13+ sitting MPs

While some sitting MPs of the BJP are not inclined to contest in the 2024 polls, the party itself has decided to replace the candidates for 13 Lok Sabha constituencies, including G S Basavaraju of Tumkur; Srinivas Prasad of Chamarajanagar; B N Bachche Gowda of Chikkaballapura; Ananth Kumar Hegde of Uttara Kannada; Sadananda Gowda of Bengaluru North; Tejaswi Surya of Bengaluru South; Ramesh Jigajinagi of Vijayapura; Karadi Sanganna of Koppala; Y Devendrappa of Ballary; Mangala Angadi of Belagavi; Nalin Kumar Kateel of Dakshina Kannada; P C Gaddigoudar of Bagalkot; Shivakumar Udasi of Haveri; and G M Siddeshwar of Davanagere.

Also read: Karnataka Speaker invites right-wing figures to legislators’ training programme, sparks row

“There is no plan to accommodate new faces as the experiment failed in the Assembly polls. The party is thinking of fielding candidates who have political background, and are connected to the organisation,” said a party leader. The list recommended by the party leadership comprises former minister V Somanna (Tumkur); N Mahesh of BSP, who joined the BJP (Chamarajanagar); former minister Sudhakar (Chikkaballapura); former Speaker Vishveshara Hegde (Uttara Kannada); Union Minister of State Shobha Karandlaje (Bengaluru North); Govind Karjol or Aravind Limbavali (Vijapaura); Anand Singh (Koppal); B. Sriramulu (Bellary); Tejaswini Ananth Kumar (Bengaluru South); C.T. Ravi (Udupi-Chikmagalur); M P Renukacharya (Davanagere); Murugesh Nirani (Bagalkot); and B C Patil (Haveri).

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