Making it clear that an alliance with the Congress for the Lok Sabha polls will be formed only on terms agreeable to them, JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda has sent a letter to All India Congress Committee President Rahul Gandhi demanding 12 tickets handpicked to choose the JD(S)' requirements.
Though it is a little too early to be issuing threats of walk out, Deve Gowda has started bargaining for seats, making it clear that the JD(S) wants 12 seats. The constituencies the JD(S) wants to contest from in Lok Sabha polls include Mandya, Hassan, Mysuru-Kodagu, Bengaluru Rural, Kolar, Chikkaballapura, Shivamogga, Tumakuru, Udupi-Chikkamagaluru, Chiradurga, Raichur and Bidar. The JD(S)' demands has put the Congress in a tight spot as Deve Gowda now wants the Congress to let go some of its strongholds.
Sources in the Congress say that AICC President Rahul Gandhi will consult with Karnataka state leaders before arriving at a decision regarding the seat sharing process.
In June this year, Rahul Gandhi and Deve Gowda had announced that the Congress and JD(S) would form a pre-poll alliance to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Karnataka. The Congress and JD(S) had agreed to a 3:1 seat sharing ratio. However, on Saturday, Deve Gowda announced that the JD(S) would not form an alliance with the Congress unless their demands are met.
Congress insiders say that the JD(S) does not really want to form a pre-poll alliance for the purpose of defeating the BJP. "The JD(S) motives are different. They want to make sure that the Congress loses support in its own constituencies. Raichur, Bidar, Kolar and most of the Old Mysuru districts have been Congress strongholds. The MPs from these areas, who have won multiple times will not agree to this. Also, if the Congress is seen supporting the JD(S) in these areas, then the party will face a major blow in the future state assembly elections. That is what the JD(S) wants," a Congress leader told TNM.
Meanwhile, sources close to JD(S) state President H Vishwanath told TNM that if the Congress does not agree to Deve Gowda's demands then the two parties will have to face a "friendly fight". "Deve Gowda's plan is to state that it will either be a friendly fight or a pre-poll alliance on his terms. But one thing to bear in mind is that JD(S) can win 5 Lok Sabha seats. We want to win more. Deve Gowda will have to negotiate if the goal is to expand the JD(S)' base," the JD(S) source said.
Dissent in the Congress again?
Meanwhile, all is not well in the Congress party as former Municipalities Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi has gone out of reach. Speaking to the media on Sunday, Siddaramaiah said, "I don't know where Ramesh Jarkiholi is. No one knows." Siddaramaiah's statement was followed by a tweet in which the former CM accused the BJP of attempting to poach Congress leaders.
"BJP is trying its hand at horse-trading and wants to topple the coalition. The BJP is offering Rs 25-30 crore to each Congress MLA," Siddaramaiah said in a tweet. Speculation was rife in the Congress that Ramesh Jarkiholi is going to join the BJP. Congress insiders said that Ramesh Jarkiholi was also offered a ticket to contest the Lok Sabha polls by the BJP.