Johnson TA Bengaluru, May 15 Karnataka plunged into uncertainty and the spotlight turned on the Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru after no single party crossed the halfway mark in the state assembly elections, the results of which was a roller-coaster ride much of Tuesday. The BJP with 104 seats and eight short of a simple majority emerged as the single largest party but the Congress, in second position with 78 seats, moved quickly to extend support to the JD(S) which, with 38 seats, staked claim to form the government.
The Congress offered unconditional support to the JD(S) and approached governor Vajubhai Vala to form the new government. The BJP too approached the governor and stated that the party had emerged as the single largest one in the polls. But unlike 2008 when it had 110 seats and rode to power after winning over five independent MLAs, the BJP was in a bit of a spot this time — the ‘others’ are only three, including one from the BSP.
Before meeting the governor, JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy had informed Raj Bhavan that he had the unconditional support of the Congress: “I have accepted the support extended by the Indian National Congress (I) party for forming the government.”’ “Finer elements of the coalition will be discussed by seniors in both parties and finalised,” Kumaraswamy told reporters at the Raj Bhavan. He met the governor along with outgoing Congress chief minister Siddaramaiah and senior Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ashok Gehlot.
Congress sources said the delegation asserted that the governor could call the coalition partners since they have the numbers to form the new government as was done in Goa and Manipur, and that he need not invite the single largest party to form the government. A BJP delegation led by it chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa also met the governor and staked claim to form the government. “We have said that we are the single largest party and we should be allowed to form the government,” he said.
The governor is said to have told the delegations that he would await the official communication from the Election Commission on the final results before taking any step. Earlier, ahead of their meeting with the governor, Congress leaders including Siddaramaiah announced that an agreement had been reached by the party to support the JD(S) in forming a government “in the interest of protecting secular, political ideals” in the state.
“We have sat together and decided we will support the JD(S) to form a government,” Siddaramaiah said before he submitted his resignation to the governor. “The JD(S) has agreed to our offer of support. This has been decided with Deve Gowdaji and Kumaraswamyji,” Ghulam Nabi Azad said. State Congress president G Parameshwara, tipped to be the deputy CM if the coalition forms the government, said: “We bow before the verdict of the people. The verdict so far shows that no party has got a clear verdict. Congress has come to a decision that it will support JD(S) in the interest of secularism.”
As many as 18 ministers of the Siddaramaiah government were defeated in the polls — the chief minister himself lost one of the two seats he contested. The BJP crossed the 100-seat mark which it had done in 2008 by regaining its hold over coastal Karnataka and adjoining regions and in the Lingayat belt in Mumbai Karnataka.
The BJP won 16 of 19 seats in coastal Karnataka as against four in 2013, and 30 of 50 seats in the Mumbai Karnataka region where it won only 13 last time.
The Congress effort to divide Lingayat votes with the recommendation of a separate religion status for the community seems to have backfired with voters in the Lingayat belt opting for the BJP over the Congress following the return of Yeddyurappa to the party fold after a brief exit in 2013.