Bengaluru, Mar 13: Breaking the logjam over the long-drawn seat-sharing deliberations, coalition partners Congress and JD(S) on Wednesday finally came to an agreement. The Congress will contest 20 Lok Sabha seats, while the JD(S) will field its candidates in eight constituencies including two in coastal belt of Karnataka.
The JD(S), which had rattled the Congress by demanding 12 out of the 28 seats, has settled for eight seats.
Congress national president Rahul Gandhi and JD(S) secretary general Danish Ali sealed the deal in Kochi late on Wednesday. In a statement, AICC general secretary K C Venugopal said the seats will be contested jointly by both the parties. The agreement comes five days ahead of the date of filing of nominations.
As per the pre-poll arrangement, the JD(S) will contest from Uttara Kannada, Udupi-Chikkamagalur, Shimoga, Tumkur, Hassan, Mandya, Bangalore North and Vijayapura Lok Sabha seats. The JD(S), which had driven home a hard bargain, has managed to secure Tumkur, where Congress’ MP Muddahanumegowda S P has become the fall guy.
Though it was rumoured that Muddahanumegowda might contest the upcoming elections on a JD(S) ticket, the likelihood of such a scenario seems to be slim. According to Congress sources, the MP is most likely out of the race, as the JD(S) will be fielding its candidate.
As many as three JD(S) aspirants — former legislators Suresh Babu, M T Krishnappa and Ramesh Babu — have been vying for the ticket.
Though the Congress was dealt with a bad hand with regard to Tumkur, the party gained an upper hand with regard to the Mysore seat.
Earlier this week, the talks between the two parties had reached the tipping point, especially with regard to Tumkur and Mysore seats.
While Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, who hails from Tumakuru, had opposed the JD(S)’s demand for Tumkur Lok Sabha seat, Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah had outright refused to hand over Mysore. In doing so, Siddaramaiah has now gained an upper hand over his political rival, JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda.
Ever since forsaking the Hassan Lok Sabha seat to his grandson Prajwal Revanna, Gowda had been scouting for a seat. He had tested waters in Bangalore North, Chikkaballapur, Tumkur and Mysore.
While Mysore and Chikkaballapur seats are now ruled out, it is still not clear which seat Gowda will commit himself to — Tumkur or Bangalore North — though speculations are rife that he might settle for the latter.
The regional party presently holds only two seats — Mandya (L R Shivarame Gowda) and Hassan (Deve Gowda). The party had, however, sought to contest from five other constituencies in the old Mysore region, a demand which had not gone down well with the Congress.
In addition to Mandya and Hassan, the party was looking at contesting the Mysore, Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Chitradurga and Tumkur seats. The state Congress leaders were, however, told off by the 10 sitting MPs that the party should not agree to such a demand.
Also, the Congress, which was not at all keen on conceding Mandya and Hassan seats, had reluctantly done so, despite its local leaders taking strong exception.
Mandya in fact has become a major headache, especially for Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy whose decision to field son Nikhil Kumaraswamy has not only drawn flak, he is unlikely to get any support from the local Congress leaders, who are rooting for actor Sumalatha Ambareesh.
Sumalatha is likely to contest as an Independent candidate from Mandya.
The JD(S) has already announced the candidatures of Madhu Bangarappa (Shimoga), Prajwal (Hassan) and Nikhil (Mandya).
It is rumoured that the party might field former MLA Anand Asnotikar from Uttar Kannada.
Seat-sharing pact: 20 seats for Cong, 8 including 2 in coastal Karnataka for JDS