Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s national launch had at least one other major party in attendance, the Janata Dal (Secular) from neighbouring Karnataka. Facing a tough contest in the Karnataka Assembly elections next year, the JD(S) is hoping some gains from the alliance to rub off on it.
On the one hand, the JD(S) hopes to acquire a presence at the national stage – a lifetime away from when its national president H D Deve Gowda (then a Janata Dal leader) was the Prime Minister. The JD(S) is also hoping that the partnership would help the party grow beyond its traditional Vokkaliga heartland of south and parts of central Karnataka, and secure hopefully eight to 10 seats in the north, bordering Telangana, in the 2023 Assembly elections.
The JD(S) is also sanguine that the gains may not come right away, but reflect in the long run, insiders said.
A day after attending the official launch of the TRS’s new avatar of Bharat Rashtriya Samithi in Hyderabad, JD(S) leader and former Karnataka CM H D Kumaraswamy said that the two parties would contest the 2024 Lok Sabha polls together. “We will work with KCR going forward,” he said.
Sources said that the preparations for the alliance began with the meeting of KCR with Deve Gowda earlier this year.
Since its brief stint with the Congress in power, following the 2018 Assembly elections, ended, the JD(S) has been struggling to hold its ground in the state. It is also battling resentment in its ranks, with MLAs hinting at leaving the party. Two of the MLAs, Gubbi Srinivas and Srinivas Gowda, were expelled recently amid growing rumblings.
JD(S) MLC and spokesperson T A Sharavana said KCR’s support would play out favourably for them in the districts of Karnataka that border Telangana, as he remains popular there due to his role in carving the separate state out of Andhra. “He will campaign for the JD(S) ahead of the 2023 polls, which will be a game changer,” Sharavana said, adding that the KCR government’s schemes for Dalits and farmers are also very popular.
In 2021, Raichur BJP MLA Shivaraj Patil had embarrassed his party’s government in Karnataka by suggesting that the Raichur district be merged with Telangana so that people could benefit from the welfare schemes there.
“So, it won’t be a surprise if the JD(S) secures some more seats if KCR campaigns in Kalyana Karnataka (formerly known as the Hyderabad Karnataka) region, and other districts neighbouring Telangana,” a JD(S) member said.
The two parties are still to work out the modalities. JD(S) state president C M Ibrahim told The Indian Express: “The parties are ideologically aligned, but the agreement is still in its initial stages.”
Congress MLA Priyank Kharge, who represents Chittapur constituency in Kalyana Karnataka, said they are not worried due to the alliance. The fact that the JD(S) was looking for partners outside the state was a reflection of the party’s weakness, he said. “The JD(S)’s alliance with KCR will not have any bearing as the BRS does not have any following in the state,” Kharge added.
Since its inception in 1999 following its split from the Janata Dal, the JD(S) has fared best in the 2003 Assembly polls, when it won 58 seats with a vote share of 20.77%. Its vote share was almost similar in 2013, at 20.2%, but it won 40 seats. In 2018, it had its worst performance, with 18.6% votes and 37 MLAs, of whom three defected to the BJP.
Of its seats, the JD(S) won four in Kalyana Karnataka region and two in Chikkaballapur and Kolar.