In another major development in Karnataka politics, son of Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, Nikhil Kumaraswamy in a viral video is seen urging the JD(S) cadre to prepare for assembly elections. According to India Today, in a video posted on social media, Nikhil Kumaraswamy says, “We don’t know if [elections] will come next year, two or three years later. JDS workers should be ready whenever it comes…” Nikhil Kumaraswamy by his statements has hinted towards a possible midterm polls in case the alliance between the Congress and the JD(S) breaks before completion of the five-year term.
In Karnataka, BJP has been successful in winning on 25 Parliamentary constituencies out of the total 28 in the state. Considering one BJP supported independent candidate, the Congress and JD(S) in the state have been reduced to just one seat each. The defeat of prominent leaders of the alliance including Mallikarjun Kharge, JD(S) patriarch Deve Gowda, former Congress Union Ministers Veerappa Moily and K.H. Muniyappa, and Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil Kumaraswamy indicate the intensity of downfall of the alliance. After the dismal and embarrassing performance in the Lok Sabha polls in the state, the JD(S)-Congress alliance is already facing troubled waters.
After this conclusive mandate against the Congress-JD(S) alliance in the state, speculations over the stability of the state government are also making rounds. The dismal performance in the LS polls has also opened the ground for blame game between the Congress and the JD(S). Several senior leaders from both the alliance partners have openly dissented against their respective party leadership and policies. Karnataka which had presented an interesting situation following the assembly elections in the state with the post-poll alliance of JD(S) and the Congress preventing the more popular BJP with a maximum number of seats (104) from forming the government. JD(S) with the least number of seats (37), riding on Congress‘ desperation, was successful in grabbing the Chief Minister’s post despite Congress being the major contributor to the post-poll coalition with 78 seats. The Congress-JD(S) coalition is walking on a tight rope since its formation around a year ago with rumors of its dissolution surfacing every now and then.
The rift between the state leadership of Congress and the JD(S) has also created a troublesome situation for the alliance. Factionalism in Karnataka Congress has been a major contributor to this disturbance which even saw several senior Congress leaders jumping ships to the BJP. Earlier senior Congress leader KN Rajanna had also made remarks about the longevity of this alliance and claimed that the government will collapse after 10th June. He had said, “This government will not remain in power as it will collapse after June 10. I have been told that he must have lost his post even before but as per my sources, BJP people in the state stopped till the Prime Minister takes the oath.”
However as the video gained traction on social media, JD(S) has been acting in damage control mode to safeguard the party’s image. A statement by the party says, “Nikhil Kumaraswamy cheering up party workers have told them that they should always be ready to serve the society. Not only during elections, but they should also always keep the party in a state of activeness so as to win the election whenever it comes. This statement of his has been quoted out of context by the media to represent that there may be election anytime.” However, this statement seems nothing more than a retrospective defensive move by the party to keep the show on till the alliance stays in power.
Given all the developments, if the government in Karnataka is to fall, midterm polls might prove to be a good opportunity for the BJP. The momentum gained from this huge sweep in the Lok Sabha polls is also likely to be carried forward in the mid-term assembly elections. Now with the new found ground in Old Mysore and Hyderabad-Karnataka region, which are considered the strongholds of JD(S) and Congress respectively, BJP is poised to make huge gains over its tally of the 2018 assembly elections. However, with just around a year, from the formation of the government, the sitting MLA’s might resist fresh polls.