With counting of roughly 38 million votes across 224 seats begins in Karnataka, the ruling BJP is hoping for a comeback in the only southern state under its rule, and the Congress is banking on the revolving door trend. The JDSmay play spoiler and could emerge kingmaker.
It’s D-Day for the three principal political parties — the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress, and the regional Janata Dal (Secular) — in Karnataka as counting of votes begins for the high stakes assembly polls.
With counting of roughly 38 million votes across 224 seats begins in Karnataka, which saw nearly 72 per cent voting in the assembly election that ended on Wednesday, the ruling BJP is hoping for a comeback in the only southern state under its rule, and the Congress is banking on the revolving door trend. The JDS may play spoiler and could emerge kingmaker.
While the Congress and BJP completed full five-year terms each between 2008 and 2018, the JD(S), was part of coalition governments thrice—the first two between 2004 and 2007 and then again in 2018-19.
For all three parties, this assembly election has been a pitched battle, with many regional leaders switching sides. So here’s what is at stake for the three parties.
Retaining Karnataka, its ‘gateway to the South,’ is a priority for the BJP. However, the BJP has never won a clear majority in a state poll in Karnataka. In its first term in 2008, it relied on the support of a few Independents to cross the midway mark of 112 while in 2019, mass defections toppled the ruling Congress-JD(S) rainbow coalition, bringing the BJP to power.
BJP minister R Ashoka, who is the BJP candidate contesting against Karnataka Congress President DK Shivakumar in Kanakapura, said that the party will cross the majority and had an alternative plan if it did not do so. “Our Plan B is different. We are not in a hurry. We will see the result and decide,” the minister said, adding that the final decision will be made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah.
For the Congress winning Karnataka and wresting power from the BJP would be a huge morale booster as it hopes to revive its electoral fortunes and establish itself as the main opposition party against the BJP.
Congress victory in Karnataka would give the party momentum for not only the upcoming elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, and Telangana but also the Lok Sabha election in 2024
Congress leader DK Shivakumar, who is seen as a possible chief minister candidate, said on Friday that he was sticking to the party’s prediction of winning about 150 seats in the 224-member assembly, well above the majority mark of 113.
“I will not change my expectations. I will not change my numbers. The Congress party will come to power. We had a big strength of leaders. Our national leaders came down and did their best. We also had Siddaramaiah and various leaders have travelled the length and breadth of Karnataka. We will have good numbers,” he said, as reported by NDTV.
Kumaraswamy’s second term as chief minister in 2018 when he led a coalition with the Congress lasted only 15 months. Out of power since mid-2019 and up against two big rivals, the crucial factor for the regional party is to be in a position to play the role of a kingmaker again.
JD(S) party leader HD Kumaraswamy said he is ready for an alliance with either the BJP or Congress depending on which party fulfils his conditions.
“I am still confident of winning 50 seats. This time, I will go with the party that agrees to fulfil my conditions,” HD Kumaraswamy of the JD(S) said.