JD(S) Kerala unit scrambles to shrug off stigma of its national leadership aligning with BJP

The Janata Dal (Secular)‘s [JD(S)] State unit on Sunday scrambled to shrug off the “discomfiting political stigma” of its national leadership throwing in its lots with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka even as the party’s Kerala unit holds a Cabinet portfolio under the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)]-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government.

Embarrassingly for the JD(S) State unit, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) had sought to politically exploit JD(S) national president Deve Gowda’s recent assertion that his lurch to the BJP had the tacit approval of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The Congress leaned on the startling statement to try to hobble the CPI(M)‘s strong pivot to the minority communities in Kerala ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Severed ties

JD(S) leader and Electricity Minister K. Krishnankutty strived to make amends for the situation under withering criticism from Congress and, purportedly, from within the ruling front. Mr. Krishnankutty told a television news channel that JD(S) State president Mathew T. Thomas had met with the national leadership and rebuffed its association with the BJP. He claimed that Mr. Thomas had unequivocally told the party’s national leadership that its alliance with the BJP was unacceptable. Mr. Krishnankutty said Mr. Thomas told the national leadership of the JD(S) that the party in Kerala had severed its relationship with the party centre. The JD(S) State unit would operate independently of the national leadership, Mr. Krishnankutty said.

However, the JD(S) State leaders were ambiguous on whether the party’s Kerala unit would formally split from the national party anytime soon, change its nomenclature and petition the Central Election Commission for the status of an independent political entity.

In a spot

Mr. Gowda’s right-wing shift had put the CPI(M) in a spot. It compelled Mr. Vijayan to push back strongly against Mr. Gowda and the Congress. He had alleged that Mr. Gowda was justifying his political flip-flops by floating barefaced lies. “Mr. Gowda had betrayed the founding socialist ideals of the JD(S) to align with the BJP in 2006 so his son could become the Karnataka Chief Minister. The opportunistic alliance is nothing new,” Mr. Vijayan said.

Mr. Vijayan said the Congress leaders had made a spectacle of themselves by chasing the chimaera that the CPI(M) and the BJP were in cahoots in Kerala. He also reminded the party that it had backed BJP’s candidate Sumalatha to win the Mandya Lok Sabha seat in Karnataka. Mr. Vijayan said the Congress was in league with the BJP in several local bodies in Kerala to keep the LDF out of power.

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