Congress is planning to go solo in Karnataka this time for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections leaving its coalition partner Janata Dal (Secular). If reports coming in from the state are to be believed, Congress is planning to field candidates from all 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state for the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The preparations for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls have already begun in various states around India, Karnataka is one of the states from south India which the Bharatiya Janata Party has a strong presence. BJP had emerged as the single largest party in the state in the state Assembly polls held earlier in 2018, although Congress and JDS ended up forming a coalition government in the state but it does not rule out the fact that BJP is a force to reckon within Karnataka. According to party sources the Congress leadership in the state have begun preparing for the 2019 Lok Sabha keeping these factors in mind and there are no talks of seat-sharing with the BJP.
A senior Congress leader from the state told The Sunday Standard, “At present, we are preparing to fight all the 28 Lok Sabha seats, We have started meetings of our district and block level leaders. The senior leaders, including those from the AICC, are monitoring. Parliamentary candidates are being sounded. We are getting ready parliament constituency-wise…We are all working together.” The Congress leader also expressed the belief that the JDS too would have begun preparations of its own for the Lok Sabha polls in the state. The national party seems to be running high on the victory it has achieved in the recently conducted local body polls in the state. Congress bagged the highest number of seats in the local body polls in which there was no coalition between the JDS and the Congress. While BJP came second in the local body polls, JDS had to content itself with the third spot. However the Lok Sabha 2019 elections are an entirely different ball game and the dynamics which worked in the local body polls will not necessarily work in the general elections.
Some Congress leaders have also expressed doubts that Congress’s decisions to prepare for a solo fight in 2019 has to do with JDS applying similar techniques in the state. Coupled with the ongoing tussle within the ongoing coalition government, these are not good signs for the future of both the parties in the state. These statements express a lack of trust and confidence between the two ruling parties in Karnataka. Fighting the elections separately would not only send a bad message to the people of the state but would also divide the votes which will benefit the BJP. It is also possible that the coalition government would altogether cease to exist in the days to come. Not only will the Congress and JDS have to fight a determined BJP riding on the charm and hard work of PM Modi and Amit Shah respectively but it will also confuse their voter bases. Congress’s policy in Karnataka will also hurt its chances of forming coalition in other states and at the national level. The probable coalition allies from elsewhere would be disillusioned if Congress chooses to leave the side of JDS, it will also increase troubles for Rahul Gandhi’s prospects of becoming the prime ministerial candidate of the joint opposition for Lok Sabha 2019.