Thiruvananthapuram: Janata Dal (Secular) joining the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance could not have taken the JD(S) Kerala unit by surprise. Ever since the JD(S) fared miserably in the 2023 Karnataka polls, it was widely known that the Karnataka-based party was drifting towards the BJP.
The JD(S) state president Mathew T Thomas, therefore, lost no time in declaring that the state unit would not be part of the NDA, a clear hint that it would sever its link with the parent party. He also announced on Friday that the state committee of the party would meet on October 7 to firm up its future course of action.
Distancing itself from the Karnataka unit is a natural decision to make, as the top state-level JD(S) leaders like C K Nanu, Mathew T Thomas and K Krishnankutty are unwavering socialists. Also, JD(S) is part of the Left Democratic Front, which has positioned itself as a bulwark against the BJP.
More significantly, the very formation of JD(S), its split from Janata Dal, can be traced to strong anti-BJP sentiment. H D Deve Gowda and Siddharamiah formed JD(S) in 1999 when the then Karnataka Chief Minister J H Patel decided to hitch the Janata Dal with the BJP-led NDA. "To join the NDA and still hold on to 'secular' in the party's name would be one of the biggest ironies of Indian politics," a senior JD(S) state leader told Onmanorama.
Though ideologically sound, the decision of the state unit of the JD(S) to strike out independently could seriously undermine its political clout. One, it could be pauperised as a substantial chunk of its resources come from the Karnataka unit. Nonetheless, this prospective hindrance in the flow of funds would be the least of Mathew T's worries.
His party's very existence could be in danger if Lok Janatantrik Party, which had in 2016 broken away from the JD(S) and entered the UDF fold, would seize the opportunity to lure power minister K Krishnankutty. As it stands, the LJD has one MLA, K P Mohanan. JD(S) has two: Krishnankutty and Mathew T Thomas.
The CPM had earlier taken the stand that the JD(S) could get more ministers only if it merged with the LJD. Mathew T Thomas had consistently opposed this merger. The LJD had a more ideologically sound reason to keep off the merger: the JD(S) decision to support the BJP candidate Droupadi Murmu as President.
Political observers suspect two possibilities. One, there will be a merger and either K P Mohanan or Mathew will be minister along with Krishnankutty. Two, Krishnankutty, citing ideological differences with a party that has joined hands with the BJP, could defect to the LJD, retaining his cabinet berth.