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Karnataka bypolls: Congress leaders spring into action as JD(S) pact looms post polls

Several senior Congress leaders had taken a backseat in campaigning, giving an impression that the party’s victory or loss would be the sole responsibility of the former CM. But with speculations of the coming together of the former allies once again, hopes have sprouted among some leaders of giving a shot at the CM’s post in the event the BJP was reduced to a minority.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Dec 03, 2019, 05.06 PM IST|Original: Dec 03, 2019, 05.06 PM IST
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BCCL
Siddaramaiah-bccl1
Former chief minister Siddaramaiah
Bengaluru: The latest talks of the possibility of a Congress and Janata Dal (S) rapprochement after the December 5 bypolls in case the ruling BJP fails to get the required number have made some of the senior Congress leaders suddenly active.

These leaders were not very active all these days on the campaign scene, where former chief minister Siddaramaiah seemed to have taken the lead for the party.

Former ministers Mallikarjun Kharge, M Veerappa Moily, G Parameshwara and KH Muniyappa, and AICC leader BK Hariprasad were said to be upset with Siddaramaiah. Sections of Congress leaders saw the former CM as an “outsider” (he was previously with the JD[S]) with disproportionate prominence in the party and disliked him having the final say in the selection of party candidates.

Several senior Congress leaders had taken a backseat in campaigning, giving an impression that the party’s victory or loss would be the sole responsibility of the former CM. But with speculations of the coming together of the former allies once again, hopes have sprouted among some leaders of giving a shot at the CM’s post in the event the BJP was reduced to a minority.

Kharge and Parameshwara had long-nursed ambitions of becoming the chief minister, but luck never favoured them.

JD(S) leaders have been sending mixed signals on the possibility of a post-bypoll alliance. The latest is JD(S) chief HD Deve Gowda categorically denying such a possibility, and specifically clarifying that the JD(S) would never join hands with Siddaramaiah. Leaders of both political leaders see it as an indication of the JD(S) being open to the idea of going with the Congress minus Siddaramaiah.

“I am aware of how the coalition (JD[S]-Congress) collapsed in Karnataka. After the 2018 Assembly elections, when the Congress leaders approached me requesting an alliance, I had asked them to make Kharge, Parameshwara or Muniyappa the CM. But the party high command decided that (HD) Kumaraswamy become the CM,” Gowda said on Monday.

Senior Congress leaders ET spoke to said it was too early to comment on the topic. “Let us wait till (the vote counting on) December 9. The party high command will take a call on alliance if the need arises,” Moily said.

A leader who is a close associate of Siddaramaiah said there was no question of sewing up a government without the former CM being part of it. “The party leaders will unitedly take a call on who should lead the government,” he said.

While both parties were talking of a combine if the BJP fails to win seven seats, BJP insiders said that they were ready with a plan B. The BJP has claimed to be in touch with a few more JD(S) MLAs who are ready to switch sides, and bail the regime out in case it didn’t get enough seats in the bypolls.

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