The JD(S)-Congress alliance for the upcoming by-polls in Karnataka will serve to be an experiment, an indicator to see if the two party, who traditionally have fought each other bitterly on the ground, can put aside their differences and fight elections together.
The congeniality displayed by well-known friends-turned-foes-and-now-again-friends HD Deve Gowda and Siddaramaiah might have been a good photo-op but has changed very little on ground, especially in districts like Mandya where, for decades the two parties were the only contenders.
On November 3, by-polls are schedule to be conducted in three Lok Sabha constituencies- Ballari, Shivamoga, and Mandya along with two assembly segments-Ramanagaram and Jamkhandi. The results will be declared on November 6.
The pre-poll alliance is seen to reap benefits, considering that in most seats, the splitting of the vote bank will be prevented, thus ensuring a larger share of the pie to the coalition. But many experts believe that this coalition might be myopic and in long term, be detrimental to both parties.
The top leadership of both parties might be willing to swallow their pride and differences for what they think is the larger good but the partnership might not be so smooth for the booth level ground party workers. For decades, they have been engaged in bitter-rivalry and suddenly , the amiability expected might not be possible.
Moreover, yielding of a particular segment to the other party could also mean reducing the party footprint in that constituency, a damage that might haunt in the future elections too.
Coming together of Congress and JD(S) is already being portrayed by the BJP as ‘hyenas ganging up against the lone Lion’, an image that will possibly benefit them beyond these by-elections.
In Old Mysore region, the JD(S) is consolidating its vote-base, the Chief Minister already playing up the farm-loan waiver he announced as a personal contribution for Mandya district. Gaining this lost ground for the Congress will be no easy task.
On paper, when the vote-share of the two parties converging for one, combined candidate might be good arithmetic but politics is beyond simple numbers.
The by-polls will determine how the volatile alliance will perform, if they decide to fight the Lok Sabha elections together and further, how the combination at the state government level will bloom.