The Congress-Janata Dal Secular (JDS) coalition government in Karnataka insists it is safe – despite the massive win by the BJP, which bagged 25 out of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state. The unfavourable results have sent the two parties into a huddle. A series of meetings were held through the day, separately and together, as they continued putting a brave front, saying there was no threat to the government even if the BJP tried to win over their lawmakers.
In the morning, Congress leaders met Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara over breakfast. Later, Karnataka ministers, from both the Congress and the JDS, assembled to discuss the political situation in the state after the dismal performance by the two parties in the national election. Despite the BJP landslide in the state – and the loss of one assembly seat to the party in a bypoll, the ministers are confident.
“Coalition government will continue under the leadership of Chief Minister Kumaraswamy. They are 105. We are 117, 12 member ahead,” RV Deshpande, senior Congress minister told NDTV.
KJ George, another Congress minister, agreed with his colleague. “This verdict is not for the state government. Already we have got a mandate for the state government last year – our government will continue. In the last one year, BJP leaders have been trying to topple the government. We will continue for another 4 years,” he said.
When asked if the JDS would gravitate towards the BJP after its win, the Janata Dal Secular replied in the negative. “Nothing is there. JDS-Congress will be together and continue the coalition government,” JDS minister Bandeppa Kashempur told NDTV.
Many of the Congress and JDS heavyweights have lost the Lok Sabha polls, including JDS chief HD Deve Gowda and the Congress’s Mallikarjun Kharge and Veerappa Moily.
“It has come as a rude shock. We didn’t feel it on the ground. Unfortunately, people chose differently,” Mr Kharge’s son Priyank Kharge told NDTV,
Mr Kharge was defeated by Umesh Jadhav, a man who had crossed over to the BJP from the Congress just ahead of the election.
With other Congress lawmakers openly criticising their party and the coalition, the state government is watchful of the BJP and what is described as Operation Lotus – the alleged wooing of lawmakers by the BJP.
Congress’s state chief Dinesh Gundu Rao told NDTV, “BJP is always trying to destabilise the government. That is one of their core agendas.”
Home Minister MB Patil, however, was confident. “The coalition government is 200% safe,” he said. And when NDTV asked him about the threat from the BJP, he said, “We are not bothered about them.”
But the BJP leaders have said the coalition won’t last long and the alliance lawmakers were in touch with them.
After the results, the BJP state president and former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa said, “Let us wait and see what the Congress and JDS decide.”
The results of the coalition for Karnataka were disastrous, with the JDS and the Congress winning just one seat each.