Going separate ways not to affect Congress-JDS alliance for 2019 general elections

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The state and national level poll tie-ups and alliances do not necessarily percolate down to the grassroots democracy and there are chances that the hyper local political alignments could be diametrically different. Like in the case of Mysore where Janata Dal (S) and the BJP continue their understanding reached in 2015 to defeat the Congress mayoral candidate in the Mysuru City Corporation elections continues even till date as the JD (S) and the BJP have not announced breakup even after they ended up opposite side after the assembly elections of May 2018.

ALSO READ: DMK under strain – a challenge for Stalin The ruling JD (S) teamed up with the Congress in a post-poll coalition arrangement to edge out the BJP from the state. Chances are, observers on the ground say, the local level understanding of the grassroots leaders of these two parties could continue if conditions so arise. One thing is clear – the local body polls are fought fiercely and always independently without entering into alliances or ties up before the polls. It is only after the votes are counted and results declared that tie ups and understandings and coalition of forces get firmed up. Karnataka is in poll mode now with elections to 105 urban local body polls scheduled for August 29. These polls will doubtless be the first test for the ruling JD(S) and its ties with the Congress ahead of the 2019 general elections. Said a political analyst, “at no time anywhere local body polls are fought in alliance and each party tries out its own strength.” The two coalition partners in Karnataka government have formally come out with declarations that they will fight the urban local body pollsseparately. Making it very clear that JD (S) will go it alone in these polls, former Prime Minister and party chief HD Deve Gowda said “we cannot ally at the grassroots for these elections but this will in no way affect the alliance for 2019 general elections.”

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Similarly, the local Congress leaders from districts wanted their leadership not to enter into any binding arrangements for the ULB polls. In  fact, the leadership of both the parties had discussed the issue and decided to fight out the polls separately, something that the BJP does nottire of taunting them. In over 2500 wards of 105 ULBs, spread over eight districts in South Karnataka, three in coastal Karnataka and 11 in North Karnataka go to polls on August 29. In South Karnataka, it will be a direct fight between the JD (S) and the Congress. Workers and leaders at the local village and town levels are not in favour of tie up and will revolt if such a decision was forced upon them, admitted a Congress leader. Besides, the BJP was only waiting in the wings to cash in on any rift or dissent in the party, so the Congress will play it very safe. Only in seatswhere the BJP appeared to be winning, some local level understanding could be reached by the local leaders, a Congress MLA said. ULB poll results would cause no undue worry for the government or its continuation.

ALSO READ: North Karnataka poses fresh headache for Kumaraswamy Only, the performance in the polls would be an indicator of relative strengths and weaknesses for the key players ahead of the Lok Sabha general elections. Although these polls are fought purely on hyperlocal issues and popularity and strength of individuals rather than of parties, the one dominant issue that could hold sway would be the loan waiver. BJP leaders are already canvassing among the people and speaking about the unholy alliance of Congress and the JD (S) that robbed them a legitimate chance to rule the state. The ULBs is more like a dress rehearsal for the 2019 general elections, to test out the efficacy of issues that will fetch them electoral dividends.

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