By Sushil Kutty
The Janata Dal (Secular) stands split in the middle in Karnataka. If not in the body, at least in spirit. C M Ibrahim, a party bigwig, is at the centre of the brouhaha that has put the Gowda clan headed by former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and his son, former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, in a tight spot for choosing to ally with, sad to say, the universal political untouchable, the Bharatiya Janata Party, which also happens to be the biggest and the richest political party in the democratic world.
Now the Gowdas are also responsible for the dangerous cleft in the party which some are befooling themselves by saying isn’t a split but only a difference of opinion blown into a split in the making. At worst, the JD Secular is hanging by a frayed rope and there’s no need for sounding the alarm, even if the state party head is telling everybody it’s my way or the highway.
C M Ibrahim is no spring-chicken. Neither was he born yesterday. He is the current Muslim face of the Janata Dal (Secular). And Muslims count for tonnes of votes, the Janata Dal (Secular) can ill-afford to miss if the party insists on sticking it out with the BJP. When tempers cool and the dust settles on this particular dramatic development, better sense will prevail and the party will remain one whole.
Right? No, wrong. The challenge to the Gowda clan cannot be brooked. This is defiance that goes beyond split. This is a brazen takeover bid. The father-son duo are as replaceable as a computer chip. The party’s decision to ally with the BJP for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections is a ready excuse. CM Ibrahim says his “faction” is the original and the Gowdas’ JD(S) is the splinter. In any case, aligning with the BJP meant the Janata Dal no longer remained “Secular”.
And if anybody still has objections, let the word go out that as president of the state unit, Ibrahim had every right to not only make decisions but also enforce them in Karnataka. Ibrahim’s decision is that the JD(S) will not be in the NDA led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party BJP and he’s going to make a core committee to convey this decision to HD Deve Gowda.
The president of the Karnataka unit of the Janata Dal (Secular)’s revolt is to go with the wind. And if his decision is hinting at a likely split in the Janata Dal (Secular) then so be it. Apparently, half the Janata Dal (Secular) is shoulder to shoulder with Ibrahim. “I am the Karnataka state president of JD(S)” is the most emphatic political statement in recent days made by anyone.
So, the Janata Dal (Secular) split is trending. CM Ibrahim is being quoted that the party has decided not to join the NDA to fight the 2024 general elections and that party supremo HD Deve Gowda no longer had any substantive role. All that remained was to count the number of MLAs who has joined Ibrahim in toppling the Gowdas. Ibrahim labeled the decision to eschew ties with the BJP as “our first decision”. The second was to request Deve Gowda to say “no” to an alliance with the BJP. The core committee would meet Deve Gowda and tell him the game was up for the BJP in as far as the Janata Dal (Secular) was concerned.
Deve Gowda’s son HD Kumaraswamy was the one who had stitched up the Janata Dal (Secular) alliance with the BJP. The former Karnataka Chief Minister met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP party head JP Nadda. The two parties were about to seal the alliance when Ibrahim broke wind on the whole BJP-Janata Dal (Secular) arrangement. Did the BJP anticipate this? Of course not when the Janata Dal (Secular) did not. Ibrahim caught the BJP as well as the Gowdas flat-footed. He threw the equivalent of a googli and it not only clean bowled the Gowda leadership but also ran out the BJP. Such a thing has never happened in cricket.
The BJP goes into the assembly polls in Mizoram, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana with the Janata Dal (Secular) desertion fresh in the minds of the voters. Will the Janata Dal (Secular) decision leave its mark on voting in the five states where elections will be held? Ibrahim emphasizing that his “unanimous opinion” was an alliance with any political party except the Bharatiya Janata Party will stay in the mind and maybe even influence.
And this decision is not going to be rescinded. Kumaraswamy and Deve Gowda can turn the countryside upside down but the decision will stand the test. Ibrahim called Kumaraswamy “brother” and Deve Gowda “father” and he says “my message to them is please come back”, which is telling father and son that the Janata Dal (S) is out of your grasp.
The important thing to note is that a family-run party has thrown away its yoke. At least one political dynasty is out of the loop. And to think that the BJP which is so anti-dynasty was hell-bent to tie up with a dynasty for spoils of electoral politics. The contradiction is mind-boggling. (IPA Service)