The hung verdict delivered by the electorate in the Karnataka Assembly elections, with no party in the clear position to form government on its own, has delivered an unlikely winner. As per the final Election Commision of India (EC) tally for 222 seats that went to polls on May 12, the Bharatiya Janata Party has settled for 104 seats, 78 were won by the Congress, while Janata Dal (Secular) and the Bhaujan Samaj Party, which fought elections in the pre-poll alliance, bagged 37 and one seat, respectively. Others have 3 seats in the assembly.
As counting began on May 15 for the 222 of the 224 assembly seats, and trends began pouring in, the BJP looked set for a clear win. Celebrations broke out at BJP offices in the state as well as outside it. However, as the day progressed, and the trends began translating into results, the BJP appeared well short of the required half-way mark. It is at this time that the JD(S), that most exit polls predicted as the ‘kingmaker’ in the run up to the polls, saw a turn of fortune. The Congress offered unconditional support to the JD(S), with reports suggesting the possibility of the grand old party agreeing to extending outside support to a minority government of the JD(S). On its part, the JD(S) has informed the Governor that it has accepted Congress’ offer.
While the fate of the Karnataka Assembly now lies at the discretion of the Governor, here is how the scenario may unfold if the Congress-JD(S) alliance does get the Governor’s call to form government and prove majority. With numbers well on their side (78 for the Congress and 38 for JD(S)), HD Kumaraswamy and the JD(S) candidates who won could see their status upgraded from kingmakers to king. As per reports, JD(S) could stake claim to ministerial berths in the cabinet for all their legislators, a move the Congress may allow to stay in power as well as ensure there are no defections from the JD(S). Moreover, the coalition could see H D Kumaraswamy become the chief minister of the state.
Headed by H D Deve Gowda, the JD(S) traces its roots to JP Narayan’s Janata Party, that united all anti-congress forces in the country in the year 1977. The party, which is being termed as the ‘Kingmaker’ in the present election H D Deve Gowda’s JD(S) draws its support from the influential Vokkaliga community, which plays a crucial role in 61 assembly seats. However, the performance of the party is consistent if one looks at the past election results.
In the last assembly elections of 2013, the JDS contested on 222 seats and managed to pull 20 percent votes, which gave 40 assembly seats. In 2008, it won 28 seats. Before this, in 2004 it won 59 seats and in 1999, it won 10 seats. In the 1994 assembly elections JD(S) was part of the Janata Dal, which won 115 seats in the assembly. This time around, despite the JD(S) tally falling two short of the number of seats it won in the last elections, no party is in a position to form a government without its support.
In 1988, Janata Party along with some other parties merged to form Janata Dal (United). In 1996, H D Deve Gowda became the 11th Prime Minister of India, headed the United Front coalition, which was regarded as the biggest rise of JDU. But, in 1999 JDU saw a split when a faction lent support to NDA resulting in the formation of Janata Dal (Secular) under H D Deve Gowda.
In 2004, JDS became a part of the coalition and subsequently ruled Karnataka for 20 months under the party leader H D Kumaraswamy, it was a coalition with BJP. It clearly states that the JDS over a period of time has changed its orientation towards BJP.
However, in 2015 JDS became a part of the Janata Parivar, which also included the JDU, Samajwadi Party, RJD, INLD, Samajwadi Janata Party(Rashtriya). It was formed as a third alternate in the country thus leaving the Congress party also.
Meanwhile, the current scenario is politically significant, BJP is the single largest party but not in a position to form the government. The results are a clear manifestation of change if the number of seats won by Congress is looked upon. However, the Constitutional procedures are in place and the formation of the government would go in accordance with parliamentary conventions and precedents, as well as the discretion of the Governor.