In Karnataka coalition, why Congress has more to lose and JD(S) gains
The Congress claimed a major victory in Karnataka after it managed to keep the BJP at bay and form the government with the JD(S). This is an alliance that could continue into 2019 when the nation goes to polls.
Similar alliances are being formed in different parts of the country in a bid to keep the BJP at bay. The question is how much will the Congress benefit from this alliance ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. B S Yeddyurappa who resigned without taking the trust vote on Saturday said in 2019, the BJP would win all 28 seats in Karnataka and this would be his gift to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The question is how does the Congress gain from this alliance. The immediate gain is that they retain an all important state. Karnataka is the only major state that the Congress is in power apart from Punjab and Puducherry. In the next one year, the Congress would have a lot at hand to better its numbers in the state.
On the Lingayat front, the Congress is expected to suffer further. The decision to recommend minority status to the Lingayats has clearly backfired for the party and it was seen in the Karnataka election result.
The backlash is expected to increase and at stake would be the political future of 18 of its Lingayat leaders. The JD(S) is not expected to accommodate many Lingayats from the Congress as it would not want to hurt its Vokkaliga vote bank. Experts believe that the Lingayat vote would polarise further in favour of the BJP. The Lingayats would view the developments on Saturday as a clear attempt to keep Yeddyurappa, the tallest Lingayat leader in the state away from the seat of power.
This means that the Lingayat worries for the Congress which began in 1990 after Veerendra Patil was asked by Rajiv Gandhi to step down would continue. The Lingayats are a very influential community in Karnataka and form nearly 17 per cent of the population. They clearly decide in 90 assembly and 18 Lok Sabha constituencies in Karnataka.
The other question is what the Congress stands to gain in terms of the Vokkaliga votes which is usually shared with the JD(S). The clout that the JD(S) has with the Vokkaliga population was clear in the election results. Out of the 38 seats it won, 32 were in the south Karnataka region which is dominated by Vokkaligas. In another Vokkaliga dominated belt in Hassan, the JD(S) bagged 6 out of the 7 seats.
Although the JD(S) and Congress have come together, they would continue to battle it out to retain their share of Vokkaliga votes. The battle between the two parties would continue to play out in the southern region and the BJP would look to invade some amount of this space.
The JD(S) has been out of power in the state for nearly 11 years. It would look to make the best of this opportunity and have a shot at all the perks. Its primary interest would be to protect its interests especially in the Vokkaliga heartland. Over the days it would look to consolidate its vote base further and this could spell trouble for the Congress in the long run.