NEW DELHI: The Congress-JD(S) combine’s success in defeating BJP’s efforts to form a government in Karnataka boosted the morale of opposition parties who are trying to create a ‘federal front’ with Congress as a partner but not as leader of the pack ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Opposition parties are expected to turn the swearing in of JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy in Bengaluru into a show of strength, as the JD(S) and Congress leadership have invited leaders of all regional parties for the event. Though the decision to back Kumaraswamy puts Congress back in the reckoning at a time when it looked to have suffered another poll defeat, the federal front will see some leverage in the alacrity with which the party accepted JD(S) as the lead player.
Reactions from politicians like West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu, Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav, RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, BSP chief Mayawati, Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao, DMK’s M K Stalin, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal among others poured in as they called up H D Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy.
Banerjee greeted JD(S) and Congress leaders and said it was “victory of the regional front” and of democracy. “Democracy wins. Congratulations Karnataka. Congratulations Deve Gowdaji, Kumaraswamyji, Congress and others. Victory of the regional front,” she tweeted. BJP’s defeat gave estranged ally TDP a reason to cheer as also DMK.
The Trinamool chief has mooted a federal front of regional parties and was in touch with prominent opposition leaders after the Karnataka assembly poll results threw up a fractured verdict. She spoke to former PM Deve Gowda, Kumaraswamy and Naidu, among others, over the phone.
While Congress has clawed out of a difficult situation, Saturday’s developments will be read by federal front leaders as evidence that the party has recognised the need to compromise its “individual” interest and work with other regional parties. According to regional party sources, “this is the idea of a federal effort to counter BJP which has been using all its resources and unethical means to capture power”.
Another regional party leader said, “This should be a learning experience for Congress... it should allow other parties legitimate space and it will benefit Congress like it did in Karnataka.” At the same time, Congress has shown that it can use the talent of its lawyer-MPs and experience of office to mount a determined legal challenge that succeeded in paring the time for a trust vote from 15 days to just 28 hours.