Cong-JDS to campaign jointly, vow to reduce BJP to single

Bengaluru,Mar 19 (PTI) The ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition in Karnataka Tuesday said they would jointly campaign for the Lok Sabha polls and vowed to reduce the BJP to a “single digit” in the state.
Leaders of both parties said they would resolve all the issues and fight the polls unitedly, amid tension between them at the local level.
The alliance partners also gagged their partymen from airing any differences to the media.
The Congress and JD(S) have decided to launch their joint campaign on March 31 by organizing a mammoth rally near Bengaluru, likely to be attended by Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
“Our relentless fight is for keeping our (Congress and JDS) 12 seats with ourselves, and win majority of the 16 seats that is with the BJP, as we are going together in this polls,” JD(S) chief and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda said.
Addressing a joint press conference along with Congress leaders, he said, “I’m not saying this with pride, we will not allow them (BJP) to see two digits..will not allow them to reach two digits..”
“Our primary objective is to stop the communal forces,” he added, as he also expressed confidence that the alliance will not only make efforts to win the seats, but will win.
In the 2014 general election, BJP had bagged 17, Congress 9 and JD(S) two seats. However in the bypolls, the BJP had yielded the Bellary seat to Congress.
Coalition leaders, including Gowda, Chief Minister H DKumaraswamy, coalition coordination committee chairman Siddaramaiah and Karnataka PCC chief Dinesh Gundu Rao held a long meeting Tuesday morning.
It followed a similar meeting involving AICC general secretary K C Venugopal late on Monday night to discuss poll preparations and campaigning.
Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara was conspicuous by his absence at the meeting and press conference.
Sources said he was upset with Congress leadership for ceding Tumkur seat, his home turf, to JD(S), despite the party having its sitting MP there. However, both the KPCC chief and Parmeshwara himself maintained that he was out of town to attend a pre-scheduled event.
Against the backdrop of seat sharing, both parties have decided to resolve the differences at the local level immediately, without giving any opportunity for it to continue further, Gowda said.
He said “before the filing of nomination, resolving few minor differences that are there is our duty. Time is very short, we are working on it.
If there are any differences between both the parties in any of the constituency, coalition leaders, including me, Siddaramaiah, Kumaraswamy should resolve it.”
Gagging party men from making statements to the media, Gowda said from now on MLAs or district leaders of both Congress and JD(S) should not be airing any differences to the media, and if there are any issues it should be addressed with coalition leaders.
“I have requested Siddaramaiah that both parties should appoint spokespersons who can speak to the media.
We should not allow anyone to speak differentiating between the Congress and JD(S). There should be one united reaction on the decisions we take,” he said.
He appealed to MLAs, Ministers and leaders of both parties to abide by the decision and have a united voice.
The Congress will contest 20 Lok Sabha seats and JD(S)eight under a deal between the coalition partners finalized last week.
The Congress and JD(S) that had bitterly fought each other in the May 2018 assembly polls had sewed up a post poll alliance after a hung verdict with the BJP emerging as the single largest party but falling short of required numbers.
For the coalition to emerge as a formidable opposition to the BJP, and win more number of seats, it is crucial for the Congress to transfer its votes to JD(S), and vice-versa.
Conceding that there are some minor issues between both parties at few places, Kumaraswamy said, they can be resolved and coalition leaders were working to resolve them.
“Both parties are going ahead for the polls with an aim to win all 28 seats in the state, and I’m confident we will be successful,” he said.
Karnataka will go for polls in two phases, on April 18 and 23.
Coordination committee chief and CLP leader Siddaramaiah said list of candidates will be finalized and announced in a couple of days.
“Partymen from both Congress and JD(S) have been given strict instructions that, even if there are minor differences, forgetting all of them, keeping BJP’s defeat as our main aim, everyone should work with unity,” he said.
One observer each from both parties will be appointed at all constituency levels for coordination.

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