New Delhi: The Janata Dal Secular is dropping strong hints of a possible alliance with Karnataka’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, post the latter’s poor performance in the recent Assembly byelections. A recent meeting on 30 November between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and JDS leader H.D. Deve Gowda led to speculation that an alliance may be happening between the two parties that had allied previously as well. Sources confirmed to The Sunday Guardian that a tactical understanding between the two parties for the Legislative Council polls is the start of an engagement for which JDS leader and former Chief Minister of Karnataka, H.D. Kumaraswamy has authorised local party units to support whoever they want to in the seats where the party is not contesting the polls; in other words, supporting the saffron party. JDS is fighting on only six seats out of 25 constituencies.

In the present Legislative Council of Karnataka, no party has a majority, and these polls are being eyed by both the Congress and the ruling BJP to get a majority in the Upper House. Presently, in the 75-member Karnataka Legislative Council, the BJP has 32 members, Congress has 29, and the JDS has 12. Out of the total seats in the Karnataka Legislative Council, one-third seats are filled through this election in which gram panchayat, zilla panchayat and taluk panchayat members vote.

Talking to The Sunday Guardian, Bangalore-based political analyst, Devdas Arun said, “The Janata Dal Secular electoral base is getting eroded, the party leadership knows it well. The tactical support to the BJP in the Council polls is the start of the engagement between the two sides. The defeat in the Hangal bypoll has disturbed the ruling BJP which now wants an ally to defeat the strong Congress. Hence, the alliance is a win-win deal for both sides. Even between 2019-2021, in the Legislative Council where the BJP did not have the majority, the JDS had supported the ruling party on multiple occasions.”

H.D. Kumaraswamy has ruled out any open alliance as of now, saying, “I have held two to three rounds of discussions with JDS local leaders and taken their opinion regarding the seats where we have not fielded our candidates and the proposed alliance with BJP and I have given instructions to our local leaders to take a decision regarding supporting other party candidates in these seats.”

After the crucial Legislative Assembly byelections where the BJP lost the Hangal seat in the home district of the sitting Chief Minister, an alliance was always on the cards. Both the BJP and the Congress have worked hard for the council polls. The BJP had formed four teams to tour the entire length and breadth of the state to gather support for the saffron party in these Legislative Council elections. The teams were led by former Chief Ministers and senior leader B.S. Yediyurappa and Jagadish Shettar, BJP’s Karnataka chief Nalin Kumar Kateel, and state Cabinet minister K.S. Eshwarappa. The Congress had also deputed state president D.K. Shivakumar and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to oversee the preparation of the grand-old-party in these crucial elections.

Talking to The Sunday Guardian, BJP leader V.K. Patil said, “JDS had been our partner in the past, they had supported the BJP previously. We had requested support from them, and the message from their side was also positive. After the legislative council results, we would definitely cross the majority mark in the state legislative council. We have learned lessons from the Assembly bypoll result and the party is ready for future polls. The loss of the Hangal Assembly seat was due to our over-confidence and Congress distracted the voters through false promises and money power.”