Why the Congress-JD(S) alliance in Karnataka could backfire in 2019

Taking its first big gamble at “opposition unity” to take on the might of BJP ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress appears to have decided to throw all its weight behind the HD Kumaraswamy-led government in Karnataka.
After dilly-dallying for 10 days over distribution of portfolios with the JD(S), the Congress made a series of concessions for its junior partner, leaving its own state leaders stunned.
Apart from conceding finance ministry – the bone of contention between the two parties – the Congress also handed over other plum portfolios like energy, public works, excise, transport and cooperation to the JD(S), though the party has only 37 MLAs and 11 cabinet berths to fill.
In the two coalition experiments earlier in 2004 and 2006, the deputy CM and the number two in the Cabinet had held the finance portfolio.
The icing on the cake for the JD(S) was that unlike power-sharing arrangements of the past – deputy CM Parameshwara had hinted that the CM post would be on a rotational basis – it was announced that Kumaraswamy “will continue as chief minister for a full-term of five years.”
To the dismay of state Congress leaders, Rahul Gandhi has also decided that the two parties will have a pre-poll alliance, and by implication, the 2019 Lok Sabha elections will be fought under Kumaraswamy’s leadership.
The Congress and other opposition leaders seem to believe that the only way prime minister Narendra Modi and BJP’s election juggernaut can be halted in next Lok Sabha elections is by putting up a consensus candidate against the BJP in as many constituencies as possible.
A series of setbacks for the BJP in the by-elections across the country since 2014, especially when the opposition has put up a united front, seem to have convinced them that they have found a ‘magic formula’ to defeat Modi-Amit Shah combine.
Karnataka sends 28 MPs to the Lok Sabha and in the last two elections in 2009 and 2014, the BJP had won 19 and 17 seats respectively. The party had secured 43 per cent votes in 2014, up from 41.63 percent the previous time, though its tally went down by two seats. In 2014, the Congress got 40.8 percent votes and nine seats.