Karnataka election results 2018: As Congress approaches JD(S) for post-poll alliance, will history repeat itself?

By Tuesday afternoon, as it became clear the Bharatiya Janata Party was leading in more than a 100 seats across Karnataka, reports emerged that the Congress had approached JD(S) to form a post-poll alliance, which both parties were vehemently opposed to during the campaign.

According to CNN-News18, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad approached JD(S) chief HD Deve Gowda and reportedly offered the chief minister's post to Gowda's son, HD Kumaraswamy.

This move echoes what happened in 2004, when the same two parties came together, to overtake BJP, which emerged as the largest party in the state. While Congress at that time led the alliance with N Dharam Singh at the chief minister, JD(S)' Siddaramaiah (at that time) was the deputy chief minister.

However, it was HD Kumaraswamy who had led the coup against the Congress coalition in the state and broke the alliance in 2006, barely 20 months after Dharam Singh took over.

As this Firstpost article points out, the two parties decided to form the alliance two weeks after the results were announced. Here is a rundown of what happened in 2004 and how the coalition collapsed subsequently.

Congress-JD(S) coalition in 2004

It was the second time, since 1983, that the electorate had thrown up a hung Assembly in Karnataka. The results were declared on 12 May, 2004, where the BJP emerged as the single largest party in the state with 79 seats, followed by the Congress at 65 seats and JD(S) with 58 seats.

HD Kumaraswamy

File image of HD Kumaraswamy. Twitter@hd_kumaraswamy

It was a surprise as in the 21 years prior to it, the state always voted ruling parties out of power.

The year 2004 was also the first time BJP had emerged as a major party in the south. However, denied a clear majority, it was up to Deve Gowda's JD(S) to side with either Congress or the saffron party.

In the run-up to the 2004 polls, Gowda had firmly asserted that he would not support either the BJP or the Congress. In an interview with The Hindu he said, "I am confident the JD(S) will form the government in Karnataka on its own. The party will maintain equidistance from both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party." Nevertheless, he changed his mind in a matter of 15 days after the results were announced.

For two weeks after the Assembly results were announced, Karnataka Congress Legislature Party leader, N Dharam Singh, held negotiations with Gowda in New Delhi, to enter an alliance and form a coalition government. The JD(S) supremo was known to be close friend of the erstwhile Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Both parties decided to bury the hatchet and "keep the fundamentalists out", according to an India Today report.

During this time, BJP's Arun Jaitley flew down to Bengaluru to open talks and negotiations with JD(S). Gowda's party was not convinced even when then BJP president M Venkaiah Naidu flew down to Bengaluru to support BJP's win in the state.

For Congress and JD(S), BJP was a common enemy and they decided that the two secular parties should keep "communal forces" out of the state.

According to The Hindu, the two parties agreed to follow the Maharashtra model of coalition with JD(S) leaders landing major portfolios such as Home, Finance and Power.

A chief ministerial aspirant, Siddaramaiah had to settle for the post of the deputy chief minister, after the Congress remained firm on its stand to nominate one of its party members as the chief minister. Incidentally, it was Kumaraswamy who convinced the former to accept the position.

Thus, on 28 May, 2004, N Dharam Singh was sworn in as the Karnataka chief minister.

HD Kumaraswamy breaks up coalition in 2006

Over the course of next 20 months, cracks developed between the coalition partners. It became evident when the Congress won the district and taluk panchayat elections across Karnataka but refused to tie-up with JD(S) at the local level, as per an India Today report.

The acrimony between the two parties reflected in the state government's workings where for nearly seven months since swearing-in, no ministers were appointed to 20 major portfolios. In all this time, both Singh and Gowda maintained that the coalition was safe and sound.

However, as much as JD(S) supremo Gowda expressed his disapproval of the BJP, his politically ambitious son Kumaraswamy had other plans. Kumaraswamy felt the Congress did not care about the JD(S) and did nothing to satisfy their demands.

When Gowda installed Kumaraswamy as the JD(S) state president, his directive was to build the party and remove the Congress from the equation in the next election. Except, Gowda didn't expect it to happen so soon.

In January 2006, gathering 46 JD(S) legislators and 77 BJP MLAs, Kumaraswamy decided to withdraw support from the Congress government and form a new one with BJP. "The Congress did not fulfill many promises and we had to dump them," India Today quoted Kumaraswamy as saying.

Incidentally, JD(S) then joined hands with the BJP and agreed to govern the remaining 40 months together with each party nominating a chief minister on a rotational basis of 20 months.

In February, Kumaraswamy was sworn-in as the 25th chief minister of Karnataka, and BS Yeddyurappa as the deputy chief minister, to accommodate the BJP, reported The Hindu.

Congress-JD(S) relationship goes as far back as 1996

When the Congress' PV Narasimha Rao lost the 1996 general election, the United Front (conglomeration of non-BJP and non-Congress parties) decided to form the government with the former's support. Unexpectedly, JD(S) chief HD Deve Gowda found himself to be the 11th prime minister of India and the head of the 13-party United Front government.

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Updated Date: May 15, 2018 15:23 PM

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