Lok Sabha seat sharing: Why Congress is reluctant to give JD(S) 10 tickets

The Congress and JD(S) in Karnataka, which have decided to contest the Lok Sabha elections as coalition partners seem to be at an impasse over the issue of seat sharing.
Lok Sabha seat sharing: Why Congress is reluctant to give JD(S) 10 tickets
Lok Sabha seat sharing: Why Congress is reluctant to give JD(S) 10 tickets
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Former Prime Minister and JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda on Wednesday told the media that he has asked Congress President Rahul Gandhi to allot 10 tickets to the JD(S). Although the JD(S) had expected the Congress chief to make a decision on the seat sharing, several complaints made by state Congress leaders to the High Command have deterred Rahul Gandhi from taking a call on the issue, Congress sources say.

Why is the deal being delayed?

The JD(S), which had earlier demanded 12 tickets is now willing to settle for 10. However, Congress leaders in Karnataka are not willing to give JD(S) more than six tickets, Congress insiders say. The primary reason – the Congress has everything to lose from such an agreement, while the JD(S) would have strategically made inroads into Congress strongholds.

The JD(S)'s calculation

The JD(S)' demand is simple. The state-based party wants nine tickets from South Karnataka and is demanding that Congress face off with the BJP in the northern districts of the state. Some of the seats the JD(S) has demanded are long-time bastions of the Congress, and the party is trying to establish a JD(S) dominance in the region by allying with the party, who was its arch rival in the southern districts in the previous elections.

"Except for Mysuru-Kodagu and Udupi-Chikkamagaluru, most of the Old Mysuru-Kodagu districts are bastions of the Congress like Tumakuru and Kolar-Chikkaballapura. Why would Veerappa Moily or Muddahanumegowda want to give up their seats? These are veterans and the party cannot ignore them. Besides, JD(S) is trying take over Congress strongholds by taking advantage of the seat sharing. The JD(S) party workers are ready to support Pratap Simha indirectly if Congress does not give up that segment. This has made many Congress seniors unhappy," a Congress source said.

Congress sources said that former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Deputy CM Parameshwara, and former Union Minister Veerappa Moily are blocking the JD(S)'s request to pick all the seats from Old Mysuru-Kodagu region. Sources said that Siddaramaiah wants to avenge himself by getting a Congress candidate to win from Mysuru-Kodagu, especially since he lost the Chamundeshwari segment to JD(S) leader GT Devegowda in the 2018 Assembly polls.

"Losing from his home segment was an insult and he will not give up Mysuru-Kodagu. If the JD(S) puts up a strong candidate in Mysuru, then Rahul Gandhi will have no option but to give the seat away. That is why the party workers want Deve Gowda himself to contest from Mysuru-Kodagu," a JD(S) leader said.

What is the Congress offering?

Sources in the JD(S) say that the Congress is willing to concede the Shivamogga, Bijapur and Uttara Kannada segments to the JD(S) instead of Mysuru-Kodagu, Tumkur and Kolar-Chikkaballapura. The primary reason being that the JD(S) has not put forth any strong candidates in that region and the party does not want its seniors to be disappointed.

"If we give up all our strongholds then we will get tickets to contest from only those segments where the BJP has a strong presence. But these are also the areas where the JD(S) is a non-actor in the political scene. The JD(S) calculation will weaken the Congress in areas where we are strong. Why would anyone agree to such an arrangement?" the Congress source added.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi has now appointed KC Venugopal and Danish Ali to decide on which tickets the JD(S) can be given. The state Congress leaders, however, are of the opinion that its coalition partner is not capable of winning more than five seats and giving the JD(S) 10 tickets would be counterproductive. "Deve Gowda will finally agree to six tickets. Congress must be persistent," the Congress source added.

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