BJP-JDS alliance in Lok Sabha elections 2024 sparks speculation: Will JDS support Sumalatha in Mandya?
Mandya - As discussions about a potential BJP-JDS alliance in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections gain momentum, questions arise regarding whether the Janata Dal (Secular) (JDS) will throw its weight behind Sumalatha Ambareesh, should she contest as a BJP candidate from the Mandya constituency.
Currently, Sumalatha holds the position of a non-party Member of Parliament and has publicly announced her external support for the BJP. It is widely anticipated that she will formally join the BJP ranks ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
In a strategic move, the BJP's high command has chosen to field Sumalatha from the Mandya Lok Sabha constituency, pitting her against JDS chief HD Deve Gowda.
Mandya holds significant prestige for the JDS, boasting a substantial voter base and organizational strength, even surpassing that of the BJP. Historically, BJP has not secured a victory in the Mandya Lok Sabha seat. However, the BJP is determined to change this narrative by fielding Sumalatha, marking its maiden attempt to win the constituency.
The last Lok Sabha elections in 2019 saw Nikhil Kumaraswamy, son of former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, contest as the JDS-Congress alliance candidate, with Sumalatha emerging as his formidable rival. During that time, the BJP had offered full support to Sumalatha without fielding a candidate of its own, leading to her victory as a non-party candidate.
Now, the pivotal question revolves around whether JDS veterans and local leaders will rally behind Sumalatha Ambarish, who was a significant factor in the JDS's loss in the previous election. Deve Gowda has conveyed to the BJP high command that he had assured Sumalatha Ambarish of relinquishing the Mandya constituency. He has advised discussing this matter with local JDS leaders, including former MLAs from the Mandya district.
The issue becomes more intriguing given that Sumalatha had been a direct target of the JDS during the last Lok Sabha elections, with attacks on former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and JDS MLAs. It remains to be seen whether all former JDS MLAs, including HD Kumaraswamy, can put aside past conflicts and work collectively to secure Sumalatha's victory.
The overarching goal of the BJP-JDS alliance is to challenge the ruling Congress party, which holds a majority, in the Lok Sabha elections. Consequently, JDS is aligning itself with the BJP, making it imperative for them to rally behind Sumalatha for success. Even if local leaders have reservations, the party leadership is expected to exert pressure on them.
As the Congress party lacks strong candidates for the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP's strategy is to field Sumalatha and secure victory with JDS support.
In Mandya district, the BJP has already made significant strides by winning the KR Pet by-election in 2019. The party is eager to replicate this success in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
JDS finds itself in a struggle for survival following its defeat in six assembly constituencies in Mandya district during the 2023 assembly elections. Winning the Lok Sabha elections is essential for JDS to maintain its presence in the district, making the BJP's demand to cede the Mandya constituency a major setback.
The outcome will largely depend on whether former JDS MLAs, who have criticized MP Sumalatha for years, yield to leadership pressure and support her. While it is deemed possible, the ever-changing landscape of politics leaves room for unexpected turns.
The 2024 election poses fresh challenges for Sumalatha Ambarish, as the political dynamics have shifted since 2019. Without the favorable environment that propelled her to victory as a non-party candidate, Sumalatha now faces a different electoral landscape.
The Congress, BJP, Raitha Sangh, and sections of the JDS rallied behind her last time, but such alliances have evolved. Sumalatha aims to secure a political foothold within the BJP before the next election, but Congress will field its candidates against her. The JDS's decision to support her or not could be pivotal, requiring her to build consensus among JDS veterans, including former CM HD Kumaraswamy, who were previously critical of her.
In recent times, MP Sumalatha has taken a softer stance toward the JDS, indicating her intent to focus her criticism on the Congress party.