Karnataka’s ruling coalition partners, the Congress and the JD(S), Monday began the first round of discussions on seat-sharing for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
The two allies, who had formed the government after striking a post-poll alliance after the May assembly elections threw up a hung verdict, have decided to fight the parliamentary polls together under a coalition arrangement.
Congress state president Dinesh Gundu Rao and deputy chief minister G Parameshwara and public works minister H D Revanna and Janata Dal (Secular) state president Adagur H Vishwanath met and discussed the alliance issue.
The two parties did not reveal the outcome of the meeting. However, Rao termed it fruitful while the Congress insisted that “winnability” would be the criteria while finalising the seat sharing formula.
Later speaking to reporters, Rao said, “We had a very good discussion. It was in accordance with former prime minister H D Deve Gowda’s wish, who had asked us to start the first phase of discussion.”
Discussions took place for all the 28 seats, Rao said, adding that the candidates will be selected on merit basis.
“We have to decide based on the highest possibility of a candidate to win the election. We decided that the candidates will be decided based on the merits. So, it’s a very good decision,” Rao said.
He said in the next few days a coordination committee meeting will take place involving former chief minister Siddaramaiah, Parameshwara, AICC general secretary and Karnataka incharge, K C Venugopal and chief minister H D Kumaraswamy and JD(S) secretary general Danish Ali.
Rao also said the two parties will submit the outcome of the discussion before the coordination committee which will take the decision.
Earlier, Siddaramaiah tweeted, “Winnability of the candidates will be the only yardstick to decide seat-sharing agreement & we are hopeful that the outcomes of the meetings shall satisfy both the parties.”
“There is hope that there will be agreement on seat sharing… no ratio, who will win from where is important,” Siddaramaiah, who is also the head of Congress-JD(S) coordination committee told reporters in Hubballi.
Seat sharing is likely to be a major test for both parties as the JD(S), banking on two-third, one-third formula adopted in ministry formation and allocation of boards and corporations, has demanded 10 to 12 seats out of the total 28.
The Congress is opposed to this, maintaining that sharing of seats will be based on “merit”.
Also, there is pressure from within the Congress not to cede too many seats to JD(S), especially the ten seats where the party has sitting MPs.
Sharing of seats from old Mysuru region is expected to be an acid test for both the parties, as the JD(S) considers it as its bastion, and the Congress has its sitting members from most of the seats there.
The Vokkaliga bastion of Mandya will be another bone of contention between the coalition partners as JD(S) plans to field Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil from the seat that it currently holds, while there is growing pressure within the Congress to field Sumalatha Ambareesh, wife of late actor-turned-politician M H Ambareesh from there.