The clock is ticking on the JD(S) and Congress to work out the finer details of their eleventh-hour alliance in Karnataka, forged in the face of the BJP’s inability to cross the halfway mark in the state. Both parties want to ensure one thing – to come to power in the state and keep the BJP out. And high level meetings are being held one after the other to ensure that the 78+38+2 majority that they’ve put together, doesn’t dwindle.
Soon after the JD(S)-Congress delegation submitted its request to Governor Vajubhai Vala on Tuesday evening, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad rushed to Hotel Lalit Ashok to gather party veterans for a meeting. Senior leaders NA Haris and DK Shivakumar arrived at the hotel soon after, and negotiations began.
Simultaneously, Congress leaders KJ George, Roshan Baig, Dr G Parameshwara, KC Venugopal and others met outgoing Chief Minister Siddaramaiah at his residence Kaveri on Kumara Krupa Road.
Party insiders say that KJ George has been tasked with selecting a suitable resort so that the Congress and JD(S) MLAs can be shipped to the location.
Multiple party sources confirmed that the leaders had earlier considered Andhra Pradesh as the location but changed their mind later. Currently Kerala and Puducherry are being considered, sources added.
Meanwhile, sources told TNM that DK Shivakumar was playing hardball with the other leaders, and lobbying for a Deputy Chief Ministership for himself.
But sources close to HD Kumaraswamy, the JD(S) president and Chief Minister designate of the coalition, said that the party was apprehensive of accepting DK Shivakumar as the Deputy Chief Minister.
“There can’t be two Vokkaliga leaders in top posts. This will lead to the Lingayat leaders revolting. Parameshwara is also in the race for Deputy CM and he is a Dalit. This combination is more suitable. DK Shivakumar may be offered a ministerial post. He may be asked to retain the energy portfolio or be given Revenue or Bengaluru Development. Once the meetings are concluded the decisions will be known,” the source added.
A Congress leader who was part of the meeting however said that the party would take care that seniors are not ignored in the negotiations. "DK is like our Amit Shah. He has been kept out once in 2004, but that won't happen again. He will not be kept away from the cabinet this time," the source said.
BJP leaders meanwhile have huddled up in their Malleshwaram party office ever since their celebrations went sour due to the change in trends. The BJP needs eight seats to win a majority now.
The party’s election in-charge Prakash Javadekar reached Bengaluru at 8 pm and began strategizing to make some Congress and JD(S) MLAs defect.
A BJP source said that the party is in talks with over 10 Congress MLAs and a few JD(S) leaders as well.
“We will form a majority. Let the Congress take the MLAs to resorts that will not matter. If they want to side with BJP they will. We are confident,” the source added.
Meanwhile both the Congress and JD(S) legislators have been arriving in Bengaluru and are expected to gather for a meeting on Wednesday.