New Delhi: Despite losing a considerable support base in Karnataka in recent times, the Janata Dal (Secular), once a formidable force in the political spectrum of the state, is working hard to showcase itself as the sole flagbearer of Karnataka’s regional aspirations for the upcoming Assembly polls scheduled in May 2023 and aiming to win at least 40 assembly seats to yet again emerge as a kingmaker in the state like 2018 assembly polls. Sources within the party had confirmed to The Sunday Guardian that the party leadership in the next six months will be going to only focus on projecting itself as the Kannadiggas’ own party which will work on the regional aspirations of the state like protecting the water, language, culture and farmers’ issues and even if it gets 40-45 Assembly seats, it will be enough to unsettle both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress. Talking to The Sunday Guardian, Tanveer Ahmed, JD (S) national spokesperson, said, “We are Karnataka’s own and original party which is closer to the people of the state. Our primary electoral plank will be the regional aspirations of the people which have been repeatedly ignored by both the national parties and their state leaders. Their leaders are busy pleasing their bosses in New Delhi but we are working on the regional aspirations of the people. In the last one month the party had organized 17 rallies/programmes in various assembly constituencies and in each rally more than 30,000 people were in attendance. Our plan is to convince the people that it is only the JD (S) which will fight for the land, language and culture of the state. Till elections we will be doing roughly 500 such rallies, two rallies in each Assembly constituency.”
On the issue of the party’s shrinking political base and successive losses in council and assembly bypolls which has forced critics to write it off as a major challenger to both the national parties, he said, “Our party cannot match both the BJP and Congress in money and resources, they invested huge resources and used all the dirty tricks, hence we lost.” Even in the last two months, senior JD(S) leader and former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy had also time again said that both the national parties are in a strategic alliance to finish his Kannadiga party.
The party had launched different campaigns to highlight water, language and cultural issues of the state like the “Janata Jaladhare” campaign through which it is trying to highlight the state’s water rights. In the “Janata Jaladhare” campaign the party workers and leaders collected water from 51 river sources from across Karnataka. To strengthen the party organization after many prominent leaders left it during the legislative council polls, the JD(S) had inducted former union cabinet minister and Congress leader C.M. Ibrahim in the party and made him the state president.
JD(S) came out from the erstwhile Janata Dal which won a clear majority on its own in 1994 Karnataka Assembly elections and JD(S) patriarch H.D. Deve Gowda became the chief minister, but in the last three Assembly polls its performance had gone down due to the rise of the BJP as an alternative to the Congress. Another senior party leader said, “Despite trying to use the regional sentiments the party may find it difficult to make deep inroads outside the old Mysore region. But, even if it wins 40 seats, it will matter a lot post-elections like 2018.” In the 2018 Assembly elections, despite winning only 37 Assembly seats, JD(S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy became the chief minister for more than a year with the support of the Congress which decided to play a second fiddle despite winning 80 assembly seats. The BJP emerged as the single largest party with 104 seats. In July 2019, the government fell due to rebellion by a section of JD(S) and Congress MLAs making way for a BJP government in the state.