Senior Congress leader D K Shivakumar on Monday said he had to swallow bitterness that he had with Janata Dal (Secular) in order to give Karnataka a secular government. He said it was party president Rahul Gandhi's decision that there should be a secular government in the state.
He, however, refused to comment on the alliance's chances of completing the full term, saying the party had various issues and options before it.
Some media reports have indicated resentment within the Congress over its alliance with the JD(S). The reports, however, have been trashed by JD(S) leader and CM-designate H D Kumaraswamy.
Shivakumar's statements reflect the Congress' new compromising attitude to stitch together a broad alliance for taking on the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming polls.
After the Karnataka election result, the party decided to play second fiddle to a smaller outfit, the JD(S) in the southern state, receiving accolades from several regional parties.
The swearing-in of Kumaraswamy, who will be heading the JD(S)-Congress alliance government in Karnataka is being seen as an opportunity for regional parties to cobble together a unified Opposition that will take on the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar are among the leaders slated to attend the event on Wednesday.
After the success of the Congress-JD(S) alliance in outpacing the BJP in Karnataka, several regional parties urged non-BJP forces to align to defeat the BJP. May this herald the coming together of secular parties, said Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's (DMK's) M K Stalin. Naidu, who worked to defeat the BJP in the Telugu-speaking belt of Karnataka, said, "It is a proud day for all of us."
However, the latest bid to form an anti-BJP alliance will largely depend on Congress as some Opposition parties are not comfortable with the party taking the leadership role. Senior CPI leader D Raja said the question of who would lead the front should be kept open and the instant focus of the alliance should be defeating the BJP. Mamata Banerjee, too, gave similar signals by calling BJP's defeat in Karnataka a victory of the regional front (JD(S)). "Democracy wins. Congratulations Karnataka. Congratulations Deve Gowda ji, Kumaraswamy ji, Congress and others. Victory of the regional front', she said.
The remarks are being seen as a signal that some regional leaders would not allow the Congress take the lead in forming a broad platform of the Opposition.
Here are the latest developments related to the formation of government in Karnataka:
1. Had to swallow bitterness for forming a secular government in Karnataka, says D K Shivakumar: Karnataka Congress leader D K Shivakumar on Monday said they had to ally with the JD(S) as Rahul Gandhi wanted a secular government in Karnataka.
#WATCH Congress leader DK Shivakumar says, 'Rahul Gandhi has taken decision that there should be secular govt here. That's what the entire country needs & that's why we have taken this stand (alliance with JDS). I had to swallow all this bitterness, this is my duty' #Karnataka pic.twitter.com/Q1fuL5nbCI— ANI (@ANI) 21 May 2018
Asked if the Congress-JD(S) government would complete a full term, Shivakumar said he could not answer the question as the party had various issues and options before them.
#WATCH Congress leader DK Shivakumar says, 'Time will answer. I don't want to answer it now. We have various issues, options before us, I can't tell right now', when asked if Congress-JD(S) government will complete full term #Karnataka pic.twitter.com/wnDiKqg2Yj— ANI (@ANI) 21 May 2018
2. Kumaraswamy refutes reports claiming resentment within Congress: Karnataka CM-designate Kumaraswamy on Monday refuted reports about resentment within the Congress over its alliance with the JD(S), calling them 'bogus and fake news'.
3) Kumaraswamy's swearing-in a chance for building Opposition unity: Will JD(S) leader Kumaraswamy's swearing-in ceremony serve as another opportunity for cobbling together a unified Opposition, consisting of regional parties, against Prime Minister Modi and the BJP? Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu will be among the chief ministers of Opposition parties to attend the swearing-in. A TDP leader said attending Kumarswamy's swearing-in would "send the right signal to the nation". Naidu has called for Opposition unity to fight the Modi-led BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress top leadership, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar are also slated to take part in the event.
4) Broad alliance to depend on Congress' flexibility: Top regional leaders have indicated that successful formation of a broad alliance ahead of the 2019 polls will depend on the flexibility of the Congress. While Pawar congratulated Rahul Gandhi for ousting the BJP and described Congress' role as a sensible one, Mamata Banerjee, among the first to call the developments a victory of the regional front, did not mention Gandhi in her message. Meanwhile, senior CPI leader D Raja told news agency PTI that the question of who would lead the front should be kept open.
5) Kumaraswamy to meet Sonia, Rahul: JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy will leave for Delhi on Monday to meet UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi to thrash out details of the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) alliance in Karnataka.
Kumaraswamy on Sunday said that the two parties will discuss a common minimum programme, which will lay the roadmap for the coalition government.
6) Karnataka Congress leaders to leave for Delhi today: Karnataka Congress leaders will leave for Delhi on Monday to discuss with the high command the modalities related to government formation in the state with their coalition partner, the JD(S).
"Our CLP leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, myself and senior leader D K Shivakumar will leave for Delhi tomorrow and hold talks with Rahul Gandhi (Congress President) and Sonia Gandhi about modalities of government formation," State Congress President G Parameshwara told reporters in Bengaluru.
7) Kumaraswamy will serve as the chief minister for the entire length of the government: Kumaraswamy on Sunday trashed speculations that JD (S) and Congress leaders will take turns to be chief ministers.
Sources said Kumaraswamy will serve as the chief minister for the entire length of the government.
8) Congress may get two deputy chief ministerial posts: According to sources, Congress may get two deputy chief ministerial posts in the Karnataka government. One of the deputy chief ministers could be a Dalit, probably Karnataka state unit chief G Parameshwara, and the second one may be a Lingayat. This will be done to reach out to the two communities.
The Congress is likely to get 20 ministerial berths, while the JD (S) could get 14, including that of the chief minister.
9) 'We may have lost the battle, but we will win the war': BJP still believes it can make a comeback in Karnataka, thanks to what a party leader described as the inherent contradictions in the Congress-JD(S) alliance in the state.
The likely consolidation of a section of voters, especially Lingayats, behind the BJP would also help keep the party in pole position in the run-up to the 2019 general elections, its leaders said.
Sources said the BJP believes that the Lingayats and a few other groups will further consolidate behind the party in the wake of the JD(S) and the Congress, two "arch rivals", joining hands to keep it out of power.
10) Kumaraswamy to take oath as Karnataka CM on May 23: H D Kumaraswamy, heading the Congress-JDS coalition, is set to become the chief minister for a second time on May 23.
"I've deferred taking oath to Wednesday on the advise of the Congress as May 21 is (ex-Prime Minister) Rajiv Gandhi's death anniversary. On Thursday, the Speaker will be elected and the date of seeking trust vote will be decided after that," Kumaraswamy told reporters.
With agency inputs