The Janata Dal (Secular) on Friday joined the BJP-led NDA and forged an alliance with the saffron party ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls to fight the Congress in Karnataka, with the two parties expected to announce the seat sharing formula after Dussehra festival next month.
The BJP said the alliance will come as a boost to its prospects in the Lok Sabha polls and strengthen the National Democratic Alliance(NDA) after it was sealed just months after the party was ousted by the Congress from its lone southern citadel in the May Assembly polls.
As the BJP attempts to recalibrate its electoral strategy in different states in the run-up to both the upcoming Assembly polls in five States and the next general election, the JD(S) that is headed by former prime minister HD Deve Gowda said it has officially joined the NDA and asserted it has partnered with the saffron party to take on the Congress in Karnataka in the Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP believes an alliance with the JD(S) will ensure its domination in Karnataka in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls as the regional party enjoys considerable influence in the southern parts of the state where the saffron party has traditionally been weak. BJP leader and former chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said the new alliance will be a “political game changer” in Karnataka.
The alliance was formalised after JD(S) leader and former Karnataka chief minister H D Kumaraswamy’s 45-minute meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president J P Nadda at Shah’s residence in the national capital.
“I am happy that JD(S) has decided to be the part of National Democratic Alliance. We wholeheartedly welcome them in the NDA. This will further strengthen NDA and vision of Hon PM Narendra Modi Ji for ‘New India, Strong India’,” Nadda posted on X after the meeting.
Shah said the JD(S) has expressed its trust in Modi’s vision of a developed India.
“I warmly welcome JD(S) to the NDA family. Their association will lead Karnataka on the path of development and pave the way for a stronger NDA and a stronger India,” he posted on X.
Talking to reporters at Shah’s residence, Kumaraswamy said: “Today we have officially joined the NDA. We have formed the alliance against Congress. Congress is indulging in corruption in the state. It is working against the interest of farmers. We have joined the NDA alliance against the Congress.”
On seat sharing, he said, “There is a positive response from both sides. Seat sharing is not a big issue. We will sort out that issue as both sides are positive.”
Sources said the BJP High Command will finalise the number of seats and constituencies after holding deliberations with Karnataka state party leaders. The seats are likely to be announced after Dussehra festival which falls on October 24.
Sources said the JD(S) may get 3 or 4 seats of the 28 seats at stake although the regional party has been demanding 6-8 seats. Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who is believed to have played a role in the negotiations with Kumaraswamy, was also present in the meeting along with the former chief minister’s son Nikhil Kumaraswamy.
The JD(S) headed by Gowda, who is father of Kumaraswamy, has long been a strong third player in Karnataka where the Congress and the BJP have traditionally been the two main parties.
Following the assembly poll debacle, BJP, wary of its prospects in 2024, seemed open to an alliance with the JD(S).
In the 2019 LS elections, the BJP had won 25 seats, while an independent (Sumalatha Ambareesh from Mandya) backed by it won one seat. The Congress and the JD(S) managed to get just one seat each.
However, in the elections to the 224-member state assembly held in May, the Congress bagged 135 seats, while the BJP secured just 66 and the JD(S) 19.
The JD(S) had contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in alliance with the Congress. At the time, both parties were running a coalition government under the chief ministership of Kumaraswamy.
The Karnataka BJP leadership hailed the entry of the JD(S) into the NDA fold, saying it would boost the saffron party’s prospects in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
“NDA under the leadership of PM Shri @narendramodi Ji continues to grow bigger, stronger and as the most trusted political coalition across the country. I warmly welcome the @JanataDal_S to the NDA family. Together we will build a stronger NDA and a New India,” veteran BJP leader and former chief minister B S Yediyurappa posted on ‘X’.
Basavaraj Bommai also posted on X, “Meeting of Sri @hd_kumaraswamy with our Leader Shri @AmitShah and our national president @JPNadda ji is successful. Welcome to JDS leader to NDA fold. it is a political game changer in Karnataka.”
BJP state President and MP Nalin Kumar Kateel also welcomed the development.
“With this alliance between BJP and JD(S), BJP will win maximum seats in the state,” Kateel said, adding that it is a sign that Narendra Modi is sure to become the prime minister again.
Reacting to the development, the Congress said the “B-team of the BJP” in Karnataka has officially become part of the coalition.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said their assertion made during the recent Karnataka assembly poll campaign in this regard has been vindicated today.
Talks about an alliance between the two parties have been in the news ever since Yediyurappa, who is also a BJP parliamentary board member, had earlier this month said there would be an understanding with the JD(S) for the Lok Sabha elections, and that the regional outfit will contest in four seats.
However, he subsequently said that things had not been finalised as Modi and Shah were busy and that a decision may come in a few days.
According to some political observers, for the JD(S) it is a matter of survival; the party hopes to better its prospects by forging an alliance with BJP in the backdrop of the Congress’s reported attempts to weaken it by wooing its leaders, they said.
JD(S) had earlier formed governments in coalition with both the BJP and Congress separately — for 20 months from January 2006, and for 14 months from May 2018, respectively, with Kumaraswamy as chief minister.