When Congress members failed to raise their hands in support of Shanthakumari, their party candidate for the mayoral polls in Mysuru on Wednesday, and instead backed the candidature of Rukmini Made Gowda, who was fielded by the JD(S), it dawned on everyone that the Congress and the JD(S) had once again stitched together at the eleventh hour their alliance, which had been in tatters just hours earlier.
Ms. Gowda of the JD(S) was elected the new Mayor of Mysuru, while the Congress’ Anwar Baig was elected Deputy Mayor.
The 65-member Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) is a hopelessly hung house, with the BJP having 22 members, the Congress 19, and the JD(S) 18, besides one BSP member and five Independents. The voting rights enjoyed by the other elected representatives of Parliament and the State legislature were also not enough for any single party to muster a majority in the MCC.
Though the Congress and the JD(S) had entered into an alliance after the 2018 MCC polls and shared power during the first two years, the partnership had come under strain lately. Former Minister and Congress leader Tanveer Sait’s meetings with JD(S) leaders in the run-up to the mayoral polls had elicited no assurance from the latter. The JD(S) was also approached by leaders of the BJP, keen on having the party’s first Mayor in Mysuru.
The suspense remained till hours before the mayoral polls on Wednesday when former Chief Minister and JD(S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy sought to drive the final nail in the coffin on the alliance with the Congress by saying that the partnership between the two parties had collapsed because of Congress leader Siddaramaiah’s “arrogant” attitude towards the JD(S).
Mr. Kumaraswamy had also given no assurance to the Minister in charge of Mysuru, S.T. Somashekar, when he called on him at the resort where he was parleying with party councillors.
With no alliance emerging from the hectic political activity in the run-up to the polls, all three parties decided to field their own candidates for the post of Mayor. Even Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president D.K. Shivakumar called Mr. Kumaraswamy on Wednesday morning with an appeal to continue the alliance, but the JD(S) leader said the matter had been left to the party councillors and a decision had been taken to field a candidate for the post of Mayor.
The turn of events during the voting caught most people by surprise. The Congress supported the JD(S) candidate for the Mayor’s post and the JD(S) returned the favour for the Deputy Mayor’s post, causing a major setback to the BJP.
While R. Dhruvanarayan, former MP and a KPCC observer for the polls, said the Congress had decided to support the JD(S) to keep the “communal” BJP away from power, Mr. Kumaraswamy described the development as a “spontaneous” decision taken by the party’s councillors during voting. Mr. Kumaraswamy also thanked the Congress councillors for helping the JD(S) bag the Mayor’s post.
Meanwhile, BJP leader and MP for Mysuru Pratap Simha scoffed at the Congress for not being able to support their own party candidate and accused the party’s councillors of betraying their own candidate. He claimed the developments were a setback to the Congress and to Mr. Siddaramaiah.
Mr. Somashekar, meanwhile, said the Congress and JD(S) have been with each other notwithstanding the statements made by Mr. Kumaraswamy and Mr. Siddaramaiah against each other’s parties. He expressed hope that the BJP would come to power in the MCC in the coming days.