In the run-up to the bypolls to 15 seats in Karnataka, the Congress high command has reportedly told Siddaramaiah to secure at least 10 seats. The newly-elected Leader of the Opposition(LoP) has been given the target of ensuring that at least a majority of the seats which was with Congress before the rebels resigned is back within the party fold. Furthermore, in a meeting with party leaders, Siddaramaiah reportedly instructed the Congress leaders that during the campaign, they have to stress upon the voters that 'voting for Kumaraswamy-led JD(S) is as good as voting for BJP', alleging that both the parties have an internal-unofficial understanding.
Notably, even before the Karnataka assembly elections in 2018, the Congress party and the former CM campaigned along the same lines. In this upcoming bypolls, this strategy is likely to be adopted particularly in the Old Mysore region where the Congress’ primary rival is the JDS. By using this strategy, the Congress party is aiming to consolidate its vote base.
Such statements have proved to be a dominant factor of friction between JD(S) supremo Deve Gowda and Congress leader Siddaramiah with the former having attributed the same as a major factor for JD(S)'s poor performance in the 2018 assembly polls. Following the break-up of the Congress-JD(S) alliance in the state Karnataka, Siddaramiah reportedly wants a bi-polar contest with no chance of JD(S) attempting to split the vote base of the Grand Old party.
Furthermore, Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi has reportedly told Siddaramiah that since12 seats belong to Congress, he has to secure at least 10 seats for the party in the bypolls, in order to make up for the coalition failure. Several Congress rebels, who resigned from their positions as legislators, have made repeated and damaging statements against Siddaramiah, claiming that the former Chief Minister had asked them to pull out their support to the coalition government.
Meanwhile, the BJP government in Karnataka currently has 105 legislators. The party needs to win at least 7-8 seats to stay in power. With the mounting pressure from the disqualified MLAs and their own legislators demanding loyalty be rewarded with poll tickets, BJP is a tight bind over assigning tickets to winnable candidates.