Why keeping flock together in a resort and Vidhan Soudha for Cong-JD(S) will be different
The Congress and JD(S) outsmarted the BJP in Karnataka and kept it out of power. There were jubilant scenes and one of the most telling pictures was the victory sign which H D Kumaraswamy and D K Shivakumar known to be sworn enemies flashed after B S Yeddyurappa resigned.
The Congress for a change moved fast and offered the post of Chief Minister to the JD(S) which has just 38 seats in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly. The Congress which all through accused the JD(S) of being the B-team of the BJP entered into this alliance of convenience the moment the BJP fell short of the magic mark.
The biggest challenge however for the coalition now is to keep its flock together. It is a well known fact that H D Deve Gowda, the wily 86 year old politician has no great love for Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah.
While it is a given that Siddaramaiah will have no role to play in the government, the name of Shivakumar also does not figure in the list of possible ministers as yet. Both these leaders are power centres in their own right. Shivakumar in particular would be eyeing a huge role after he pulled off a trick and kept the entire flock together. Keeping him away would be a huge challenge that the coalition would face.
The Congress and JD(S) together have 117 seats including the independents. This is six above the magic mark of 111. However since one legislator would be a Speaker, practically the number would be five above the magic number. Kumaraswamy would have to give up on of the two seats (Ramanagara-Channapatna). The by-elections to one of these seats would be a hard fought one. Due to this coalition, the Congress is unlikely to field its candidate which would make it a direct battle between the JD(S) and BJP.
Moreover there would be elections held at Rajarajeshwari Nagar and Jayanagar and the BJP would go all out to ensure that it can ensure victories. Rajarajeshwari Nagar is held by the Congress while Jayanagar is with the BJP. In these constituencies the JD(S) is unlikely field any candidates and this would make the fight a direct one between the Congress and BJP.
In case Kumaraswamy vacates Channapatna, the BJP may go with C P Yogeshwar who is no push over. He would give a tough fight to the JD(S) the party in which the scales are tilted at the moment. In Rajarajeshwari Nagar, the BJP would hope to capitalise on the voter ID scam involving Muniratna the Congress candidate. At Jayanagar it would look to gain on the sympathy factor after its MLA B N Vijaykumar passed while campaigning. However in Jayanagar the fight would not be an easy one since the BJP would be up against Sowmya Reddy the daughter of Ramalinga Reddy.
If the BJP manages to win the three seats, then its number goes up to 107 and this would result in a very tricky position as the BJP would be just 5 short of the magic number in the 224 member House excluding the Speaker.
Within the new coalition keeping the likes of Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar would be a big challenge. G T Deve Gowda who crushed Siddaramaiah at Chamundeshwari will be a big player in the new government. He would be given control of Mysore district which has been a Siddaramaiah bastion. Looking at the manner in which both leaders have fought, Gowda would look to consolidate the JD(S) further in the region and this would mean eating into the control of Siddaramaiah.
In the run up to the 2019 elections several regional parties would come together. Looking at the developments, all the regional parties would not want the Congress to be the lead player. Kumaraswamy has already invited leaders of several regional players for his swearing in ceremony. The JD(S) would be aware that for it to play a larger role at the national level it would need to bag a major chunk of the seats in Karnataka. For this it will have to challenge the Congress as the two parties enjoy a common vote base.