Since May 2018, when the Congress-JD(S) coalition came to power, the BJP in Karnataka has been sorely disappointed for being unable to form a government, and time and again they’ve tried to poach MLAs and topple the government.
Now, once again, rumours are rife that the BJP is planning to pull off another coup and push for a no-confidence motion when the budget session begins on February 8. What's intriguing is that several sources in the Congress say that many of the leaders within the party do not want the coalition to stand. "It's not about retaining power now. It's about a much larger threat the party is facing," a Congress source said.
So what is this perceived threat?
According to insiders in the grand old party, several prominent leaders in the Congress are extremely unhappy about the Congress-JD(S) pre-poll alliance for the General Elections. Sources say that these leaders fear that this alliance would pave way for the JD(S) to "completely take over" their strongholds in Old Mysuru. In December last year, JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda wrote to AICC President Rahul Gandhi stating that the JD(S) would be willing to align with the Congress for the Lok Sabha elections only if the JD(S) is allowed to contest in 12 key constituencies. The former Prime Minister demanded that the tickets to the Mandya, Hassan, Mysuru-Kodagu, Bengaluru Rural, Kolar, Chikkaballapura, Shivamogga, Tumakuru, Udupi-Chikkamagaluru, Chitradurga, Raichur and Bidar segments be handed over to JD(S).
"These are also the areas where the Congress is extremely strong. So many prominent leaders from these MP constituencies will lose their vote bank if they are seen supporting the JD(S) candidate. There is an entire lobby of leaders who are fighting against this pre-poll alliance. The strategy is simple. If there is no coalition, then there will be no pre-poll alliance. Hence, they don't mind if the party is not in power in the state. They want to retain their voter bases for the numerous elections to come," a Congress source said.
On Monday, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy had also expressed his displeasure over Congress leaders "creating trouble" for the alliance. Kumaraswamy had also expressed his wish to step down as the CM if the Congress did not want to continue as a coalition partner.
"For so many years, the Congress and JD(S) were rivals and suddenly they want these leaders in key constituencies to share their vote bank with them. Why would they agree?" the source questioned.
Currently, there are 79 Congress MLAS, 37 JD(S) MLAs, one MLA each from KPJP (R Shankar) and BSP (N Mahesh) and one independent candidate (Mulbagal H Nagesh), who withdrew support for the coalition earlier this month. With 118 MLAs on its side, the coalition has a simple majority.
BJP sources say that the party has allegedly managed to convince six Congress legislators to resign ahead of the budget session. Sources in BJP and Congress say that six rebel Congress MLAs, including former Minister of Municipalities, Ramesh Jarkiholi, have been cooped up at resorts. Four MLAs are believed to be in Mumbai, one in Pune and the suspended Congress legislator JN Ganesh is allegedly cooling his feet at a resort in Goa.
If rumours are to be believed, then forces in both the Congress and BJP are working to bring down the coalition government and ultimately the pre-poll alliance. The question is - will the BJP succeed this time?