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Karnataka bypolls: Congress, JDS hint at alliance again

Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah said his party will win at least 12 seats and come back to power. But Congress will still fall short of a simple majority and will not be able to form a government without the support of its former partner.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Dec 02, 2019, 10.41 AM IST
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BENGALURU: With bypolls to 15 Assembly seats barely three days away, the Congress and the JD(S), that parted ways on a bitter note following the collapse of the coalition government in Karnataka in July, are once again hinting at sewing a partnership in the event of the BJP missing the minimum number of seats it must win to retain power.

Of the 15 seats, the BJP has to win at least seven for chief minister BS Yediyurappa’s four-month-old government to survive. The last three days have seen several Congress and the JD(S) leaders indicating that the friends-turned-foes coming together to form the government again cannot be ruled out. Congress legislature party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah said that his party will win at least 12 seats and come back to power. But even in the event of the Congress winning 12 seats, it will fall short of a simple majority and cannot form the government without its former partner JD(S)’ support.

Fuelling speculations that an alliance is on the cards, Congress Rajya Sabha member BK

Hariprasad said on Saturday: “The Congress will win 10-11 seats. If the party high command decides and the JD(S) supports us, then the Congress will come to power.”

Former deputy CM of Karnataka G Parameshwara too spoke on similar lines. He said that if the Congress performs well in the bypolls, the situation will be in its favour. “The high command will take a call.”

Interestingly, the JD(S) leaders who were until recently taking a soft stand on the BJP government, now seem to be open to the idea of supporting the Congress if the situation calls for it. Although JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda has not said that his party would support the Congress, he has suggested that it largely depends on the Congress’ stand post the bypolls. Though the BJP appeared to be extremely confident of a clear victory in the bypolls when the election dates were announced, the confidence level does not remain the same. Leaders from all the three parties told ET that it was difficult to gauge the mood of the voters. With the election campaigns too receiving a lukewarm response, the party leaders are predicting a low voter turnout.

“We are trying to rake up voters' sentiments by highlighting how defectors created an unnecessary situation forcing the state to go for bypolls and halting development work. We are not yet sure if people will go with the defectors,” a Congress MLA said.

While the BJP leaders including Yediyurappa have maintained that the party will win in all the 15 seats, the real picture is different. The party leaders are skeptical about the performance in the four flood-ravaged constituencies of Athani, Gokak, Kagwad and Hirekerur. While the JD(S) is confident of winning the Vokkaliga-dominated KR Pet seat, the BJP is also seeing a close contest in Chikkaballapura, Hoskote, Hunasuru and Yeshwanthpur constituencies.

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