Congress and Janata Dal (S) coalition in the offing?
The Congress High Command's decision of continuing Home Minister G. Parameshwara as the KPCC president is not a surprising move at all. The Congress has its own share reasons for backing a Dalit face for top post considering upcoming assembly elections. But choosing Parameshwara over a strong Vokkaliga leader DK Shivakumar sends a different political signal. What we have to understand is its impact on former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda-led Janata Dal (Secular). Now, both Congress and its likely alliance JD (S) and Congress are in a win-win situation.
Why is it win-win for JD (S)?
It is well-known fact that JD (S), which has solid Vokkaliga vote bank in old Mysore cannot tolerate rise of another strong Vokkaliga leader in the region. Had DK Shivakumar been appointed as PCC president, the bonhomie between the two potential coalition partners would have been soured.
Though formally not announced, the tacit understanding between the Congress and JD (S) is palpable. For instance, in the recent bypoll held in Nanjangud and Gundlupet constituencies, Congress bagged both seats as JD (S) didn't field candidates.
Ahead of the by-poll, HD Kumaraswamy cited an internal survey taken up by the party in both the constituencies which said that JD (S) would emerge only second and chances of winning was less. Besides, he said the election would only benefit BJP and didn't want his party to contest the poll to benefit another party. However, the results proved the opposite, which raised doubt of tactical understanding between the two parties. The bypoll wasn't considered an indicator for 2019 assembly elections, certainly, it opened the door for a joint force against the BJP.
Moreover, the animosity between two Vokkaliga leaders is well documented in the annals of political history of the state. Firstly, in 2004, DK Shivakumar ensured the victory of journalist-turned-politician Tejaswini against mighty Deve Gowda in Kanakapura Lok Sabha (now Bangalore Rural) parliamentary by-election. Secondly, former CM HD Kumaraswamy and DK Shivakumar have sparred in more than one occasion. Reports say their enmity span over a decade. Given these facts, Parameshwara's appointment as PCC President gives a relief to JD (S) to contemplate future actions.
Why win-win for Congress?
Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rise to power, the Congress has miserably failed in state assembly elections held in 2014 to 2017. Congress bit the dust in Haryana, Uttarakhand, Assam, Goa and Arunachal Pradesh and recently in Uttar Pradesh. Yet there are exceptions like AAP's victory in Delhi, JD (U) and RJD coalition in Bihar and Mamata's TMC in West Bengal. In Punjab, Congress tasted success, thanks to the corrupt Badal-government.
Coming to South, Karnataka is the only state where Congress could think of retaining power. Yet the road to success is not easy. BS Yeddyurappa's return to BJP has brought Lingayats back to BJP's fold as time and again he has been projected CM face in the upcoming elections. It may be recalled that Congress' success in the 2013 assembly poll partly attributed to Yeddyurappa's Karnataka Janata Paksha which divided BJP votes.
Now, if Congress want to repeat its feat it must form an alliance with JD (S). On the other hand, JD (S) too know that it cannot come to power singlehandedly. Since its inception, the party has remained a sub-regional party. Till date, the party has known to perform very well only in 2004 with 59 seats in 224-member assembly.
Parameshwara as KPCC head the Congress has played safe. On one hand, the party is successful in placating Dalit vote banks; on the hand won over JD (S) by appointing DK Shivakumar as head of Campaigning Committee.
Firstly, JD (S) staying away from bypolls, Parameshwara as PCC president and Sonia Gandhi's invitation to Deve Gowda to the luncheon meeting to discuss a candidate for the upcoming presidential polls- all leads to a coalition in the offing, however, leaders from both the parties may deny.