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Will They, Won’t They? On Talk Of BJP-JDS Deal In Karnataka, HD Kumaraswamy Says

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JDS leader HD Kumaraswamy is a two-time former Karnataka Chief Minister (File).

Bengaluru:

Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy has dismissed talk his party has allied with the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha election, explaining that negotiations are still in an “initial phase” and “a lot of discussions are yet to happen”. The former Chief Minister said BJP leader BS Yediyurappa’s comment – that an agreement is in place – reflected his “personal reaction”.

“Yediyurappa’s reaction is his personal… Until now, there has been no discussion on seat sharing or anything. We have met cordially… These are initial phases of discussions… He (Mr Yediyurappa) has spoken good about our party… (I) thank him for his statement,” Mr Kumaraswamy said today.

The JDS leader also nixed media reports claiming his party is “adamant” on being allowed to stand for the Mandya Lok Sabha seat – won by a BJP-backed independent candidate in 2019 – and at least two others, including the Tumkur seat party boss HD Deve Gowda unsuccessfully contested.

“… all these have not yet been discussed. I appeal to media friends not to speculate when discussions are still in an initial phase. Meeting of party workers has been called… their opinion will be gathered.”

A meeting had also been held Wednesday – at Mr Kumaraswamy’s Bengaluru home – to canvas party leaders’ opinions on joining hands with the BJP, news agency ANI reported.

On Thursday Mr Yediyurappa claimed the BJP and the JDS had struck a deal, one that will see the smaller party contest four of the state’s 28 Lok Sabha seats and which “will help us win 25 or 26 seats”.

READ | As Opposition Teams Up For Big 2024 Fight, BJP Plans A Pact In South

However, hours later BJP sources told NDTV nothing had been finalised and that talks were ongoing.

JDS vs Congress Over BJP Deal Reports

Meanwhile, Mr Kumaraswamy also took swipes at the ruling Congress, which was critical of news of the tie-up; Jagadish Shettar – who moved from the BJP ahead of the May Assembly polls – warned both parties, “You will lose the trust of people (if you) form alliances based on your convenience”.

Congress leader and current Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah, questioned the regional party’s secular credentials, alleging it does not have any ideology and would do anything for the sake of power.

“People need this (the alliance with the BJP) because Congress is looting the state. People need alternatives… there is a feeling among people this alliance is good,” HD Kumaraswamy hit back.

JDS Struggling?

The JDS has formed coalition governments with both BJP and Congress – for 20 months from January 2006, and for 14 months from May 2018; the latter time with Mr Kumaraswamy as the Chief Minister.

However, dismal shows in the two previous elections – 2019 Lok Sabha and 2023 Assembly polls – have led some to ask if the party can still pull in votes. In 2019 the BJP swept the state, winning 25 of 28 seats on its own, and in May, a JDS pitched as a “kingmaker” flopped after it won just 19 seats.

A defiant Mr Kumaraswamy, told the Congress to focus on governance and not “comment on our party”. “… ‘you are in power… people blessed you. Do good work’,” he told reporters.

Why JDS Deal For BJP?

In June, sources told NDTV of the possibility of a BJP-JDS alliance.

The BJP is now without a government in South India. The party was booted out of Tamil Nadu in 2021 and routed in Kerala. Both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have also proven resistant.

Of these states, Telangana votes for a new government later this year and the BJP is eager to have local footprints in each state as it builds back up ahead of next year’s mega election.

With that in mind, the AIADMK alliance has been renewed and talks are also on with smaller Kerala parties. The BJP is already in a coalition government in Puducherry.

With input from agencies



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