The saffron surge in Karnataka did not spare even the traditional strongholds of coalition partners Congress and JD(S) in old Mysore region, leaving the alliance virtually in tatters.
The triumph of BJP in many parts of the region has exposed the chinks in the electoral partnership between Congress and JD(S). The rout of the alliance despite forging a seat sharing arrangement has raised questions over the chemistry between the two parties.
After fighting each other in elections bitterly for decades, the Congress and JD(S) joined hands after last year’s Assembly polls to not only form a coalition government, but to fight the Lok Sabha polls jointly against the “communal” BJP.
The semblance of camaraderie between the leaders of the two parties at the State level – notwithstanding the potshots their leaders took at each other at frequent intervals – apparently failed to percolate to the grassroot level.
The mutual animosities between the supporters of the two parties were so strong that many did not think twice before voting for the rival BJP instead of supporting the coalition candidate, a Congress leader claimed, recalling the admission by JD(S) leader G.T. Deve Gowda that JD(S) supporters had voted for BJP in Mysuru Lok Sabha constituency.
Absence of strategy
A few Congress leaders even indicated the absence of a political strategy for the common good of the coalition partners while sharing seats. “Sharing of seats was marred by confusion. The leaders did not assess the mood of the supporters of the two parties before announcing the candidate, which led to the acrimony spilling out in public”, said Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) spokesperson H.A. Venkatesh.
“Factors like caste and winnability were also given a go-by in many constituencies. Personal egos of senior leaders were taken into consideration”, said another Congress leader, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The conflict between coalition partners provided a fertile ground for the BJP to put up its best-ever performance in the region. The saffron party, which till recently was ending up as an also-ran in contests primarily involving Congress and JD(S), has now made a near complete sweep in the region.
Mr. Venkatesh blamed the media for playing a “highly partisan role” in the run-up to the elections, which gave saffron party an edge. “The media was not neutral.”