The Congress-JDS coalition in Karnataka has finally agreed to a seat-sharing plan for the 28 Lok Sabha constituencies of the state ahead of the 2019 general elections. On Wednesday, the coalition announced a seat-sharing agreement with JDS. The JDS is set to contest in eight of the 28 Lok Sabha seats while Congress will field candidates in 20 seats.
The JDS-Congress coalition which has been turbulent times has somehow come up with a face-saving deal, as Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy was miffed over Congress party’s reluctance to cede more seats to its junior partner JDS. The JDS had reportedly sought at least 12 seats to contest as a part of the coalition but has now settled for eight seats as a compromise for allowing HD Kumaraswamy to run the coalition government without any extra interference by the Congress party.
According to the new seat-share formula, the JDS will contest from Shimoga, Tumkur, Hassan, Mandya, Bengaluru North, Uttara Kannada, Chikkamagaluru and Vijayapura, while Congress will contest in the remaining 20 seats. The JDS will be contesting in three seats from its bastion of Old-Mysore region in the South Karnataka. However, it did not succeed in claiming Mysuru Lok Sabha seat, as former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was very much averse to the idea of letting JDS contest from Mysuru.
Hassan and Mandya, which are considered the JD(S) strongholds, are being vacated for the coronation of JDS political heirs, the two grandsons of Devegowda Prajwal Revanna, son of HD Revanna and Nikhil Kumaraswamy, the son of CM HD Kumaraswamy. Reportedly, JDS supremo HD Devegowda may contest from either Tumkur or Bangalore North, as both constituencies have considerable Vokkaliga vote base. The Congress has ceded Tumkur Lok Sabha seat despite winning it in the 2014 general elections.
The leaders and party workers of both JDS and Congress were against the idea of ceding seats to each other in many seats in the Old Mysore region as Congress and JDS are the principal opponents against each other in the region. Further, with an eye on future elections, both parties want to maintain the influence they currently enjoy in these constituencies. With ceding Mandya, Hassan and Tumkur to JDS, Congress may have upset their own vote base, who are often not willing to vote for a JDS candidate.
As expected, Sumalatha, wife of late actor and former Congress leader MH Ambareesh has missed out on Mandya Lok Sabha ticket. She is all set to contest as an independent candidate, with a tactical backing by the BJP against Nikhil Kumaraswamy.
Meanwhile, the BJP is yet to announce candidates for the 28 Lok Sabha constituencies. BJP had won 17 seats in the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and it is aiming to win at least 22 seats from the state. With Congress ceding seats like Udupi-Chikkamagaluru, Shimoga, Vijayapura, Uttara Karnataka to JDS, which has very less presence in the region, BJP may be in the pole position just weeks ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.