LS polls rout hastened Karnataka's JD-S-Congress government exit (News Analysis)

By Fakir Balaji

Bengaluru, July 24 (IANS) The dramatic fall of the shaky Janata Dal-Secular-Congress coalition government on Tuesday came as a big relief to the people of Karnataka, as it brought to end political chicanery, with a blot on the outgoing allies and the opposition BJP.

"The exit of the 14-month-old coalition government was inevitable and waiting to happen after the warring allies were routed in the recent Lok Sabha elections, winning only one seat each and letting the BJP win a record 25 of the 28 seats in the state, riding on the Narendra Modi wave," a political analyst told IANS.

If the post-poll alliance between the arch rivals after the May 2018 state Assembly elections helped them form the coalition government and keep the BJP out of power, the pre-poll tie-up to field joint candidates in the parliamentary polls sounded their death knell, with both blaming each other for their humiliating defeat at the hustings.

"Though the Assembly poll result was a mandate against the Congress after five years of mediocre rule, its attempt to remain in power, piggy-riding on the JD-S has been its undoing, as it lost 20 of the 21 seats it contested in the general elections," said the analyst.

In contrast, the JD-S, which has been winning only 2-3 Lok Sabha seats over the last two decades in triangular contests, retained the lone Hassan seat, which is the home turf of the Deve Gowda clan and lost in 6 of the 7 seats it contested under a seat-sharing arrangement with the Congress.

The severe drubbing of the Congress even across the country in the April-May general elections has made its continuation in the tottering coalition government a liability, as it no longer needed the JD-S for the grand post poll-alliance it planned to forge with other secular parties for forming the UPA 3 version at the Centre. Alas!

The shock defeat of Congress stalwarts like Mallikarjun Kharge, who was the party's opposition leader in the last Lok Sabha term, and former Union Ministers M. Veerappa Moily and K.H. Muniyappa has made the party's state leaders realise the heavy price it paid for jointly contesting with the JD-S and the damage the alliance will further do to its electoral prospects in future.

Though JD-S suffered equally with the twin defeats of supremo H.D. Deve Gowda's in Tumkur and his grandson Nikhil's (prodigal son of former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy) in its traditional bastion Mandya, the alliance between the coalition partners became injurious and untenable to both for any longer.

A swot analysis of the Lok Sabha results in the southern state revealed that the BJP had won in 176 of the Assembly segments of the 28 Lok Sabha seats due to severe erosion of the Congress vote base across the state.

"The Lok Sabha results unnerved the party leaders to realise that the longer it remains in the coalition government as a junior partner to the JD-S despite having 79 seats against 37 of its ally (JD-S), it will face a similar rout if mid-term polls for the 225-member Assembly are to be held sooner or later," said the analyst.

The failure of the party leaders and cadres in working with their counterparts in the JD-S in the absence of chemistry or bonhomie for consolidating their secular votes or transferring them to benefit their joint candidates has also exposed the tenuous relationship between the two after fighting against each other over the last three decades in state and parliamentary elections.

The resignation of Rahul Gandhi as Congress president and absence of a decisive leader in his place to lead and guide the grand old party have also emboldened a dozen of its rebel legislators to revolt against the state leadership, especially its floor leader Siddaramaiah and its state President Dinesh Gundu Rao, by resigning from their Assembly seats and triggering a political crisis that brought down its coalition government two months after the Lok Sabha results on May 23.

With the alliance having served its initial purpose of keeping the BJP away from power and outlived its relevance after the fall of the coalition government, the Congress is unlikely to associate with the JD-S, which damaged its electoral prospects in the recently.

"In fact, in its desperation to keep the BJP out of power, the Congress revived the JD-S' fortunes by extending unconditional support to form the coalition government with Siddaramaiah's bete noire Kumaraswamy as its chief minister for five years backfired and proved expensive in the recent parliamentary elections, added the analyst.

(Fakir Balaji can be contacted at fakir.b@ians.in)

--IANS

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