Karnataka fate hangs in balance as BJP falls short of majority; Cong-JD(S) join hands

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 16 May 2018 08:22:52



BJP emerges single largest party















ALL EYES were on Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala on Tuesday after hotly-contested elections threw up a hung Assembly, forcing the BJP and a hurriedly stitched alliance of the Congress and the JD(S) to stake claim to form a Government.

The BJP, which appeared confident of returning to power in its only southern bastion, emerged as the single largest party but failed to cross the half-way mark in the 224-member Assembly where two constituencies didn’t vote on Saturday.

Elections were held for 222 seats on May 12 while polling for the remaining two will be held later. Polling for R R Nagar seat was deferred on account of alleged electoral malpractices while it was countermanded in Jayanagar seat following the death of the BJP candidate. Karnataka recorded the highest voter turnout at 72.13 per cent since the 1952 assembly elections.

The BJP bagged 104 seats, a gain of 64 , while the Congress notched 78, a loss of 44 seats, though its vote share was nearly two percentage points more than the BJP. The JD(S) secured 37 seats, down by three from its previous tally. Mayawati’s BSP, a JD(S) ally, and Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party (KPJP) have won one seat each.

This time, the Congress, set to win 78 seats, sprung a surprise and quickly announced its support to the Janata Dal-Secular which finished third with 37 seats in a bid to keep the BJP away from forming a Government. Congress General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad told the media in the company of outgoing Chief Minister Siddaramaiah that the JD(S) and the Congress “will meet the Governor and stake claim”. Led by former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, the JD(S) quickly accepted the offer and wrote to the Governor staking claim to power. Both JD(S) leader and former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and Siddaramaiah of Congress then met the Governor and staked the claim to form a Government. “I have accepted the support extended by the Congress to form the Government,” Kumaraswamy said. That happened after BJP leader and its Chief Ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa met and urged the Governor to let him prove his majority support in the Karnataka Assembly. He was accompanied by Union Minister Ananth Kumar.

The ball now lies in the Governor’s court. According to usual practice, the Governor calls the leader of the single largest party or pre-poll alliance to form the Government. In the case of a hung Assembly, the leader is asked to prove the majority on the floor of the House within a stipulated time. In Karnataka, the Congress and JD(S) did not have a pre-poll alliance. However, it is for the Governor to take a call on who to invite first.

The dramatic turn of events that saw BJP’s jubilations swinging up and down throughout the day spoiled its hopes to form its own Government in Karntaka -- its gateway to the south. According to party sources, three senior ministers -- Dhamendra Pradhan, Prakash Javadekar and J P Nadda -- have been rushed to Karnataka to strategise with the local leadership. Siddaramaiah, who handed over his resignation to Vala, said “in a democracy we will have to accept people’s verdict, we have accepted it. Our decision is to support JD(S). It is our unanimous decision.”

However, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa accused Congress of trying to win power unfairly. He said he would stake claim to form the Government. Mocking at the “desperation of a defeated Congress” to support the JD(S) to form a coalition Government to keep the BJP out of power, BJP spokesman Shantaram said his party was open to an alliance with the JD(S) or seek its support to form the new Government. “We are open to JD(S) support, if need be, after all the results are declared. Our approach to JD(S) will depend on the number of legislators we need to prove majority in the house or win the confidence motion,” he said.

BJP activists and leaders earlier celebrated noisily in both Bengaluru and New Delhi, waving party flags and shouting slogans hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, their main vote-getter, and Amit Shah.