Congress + JDS likely to form government in Karnataka as election results inconclusive

 

KARNATAKA ELECTION RESULTS – 2018
2018Vote Share%2013Vote Share%
BJP10536.54019.9
INC7637.912236.6
JDS3918.14020.2
OTHERS2NA2NA
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The Bharatiya Janata Party is all set to fall temptingly short of the halfway mark in Karnataka Legislative Assembly, making it more than likely that the next government will be a coalition of the Congress Party and the Janata Dal Secular.

With counting almost over, the BJP is looking to end up with 105 seats, while the Congress Party is set to win 76 and the JD(S) 39.

Congress leader Sonia Gandhi has already reached out to JD(S) leader HD Deve Gowda for an alliance, and if the alliance is formed, it would have the support of 115 MLAs, four more than required for a simple majority.

STAGE SET FOR DRAMA

In this situation, the BJP has two options. First, it could try to approach HD Kumaraswamy’s JD(S) with a partnership offer.

Second, it can hope that the Congress and the JDS do not form a coalition in time and BJP ends up being called by the governor to form the government as it is the largest party.

In such a situation, it can run a government if it can convince 2 or 3 opposition MLAs to vote for it during trust motion. It can also run the government if around 5 or 6 opposition MLAs abstain from voting at such a time.

Conversely, for the Congress Party and JDS, the only way to form the government would be to approach the governor promptly with proof that they have support from the majority of the MLAs, which should not be a problem given that the two parties have 114-115 MLAs between them, three or four more than required.

If the Congress and JD(S) get their act together fast, then they have to be invited by the governor before the BJP has a chance to form a government and hold a trust vote.

Earlier this year, for example, the Meghalaya governor invited a coalition of the BJP and other parties to form the government even though the Congress Party was the largest in terms of MLAs.

“In a hung assembly, if majority of the elected MLAs form a coalition, the Governor would be constitutionally right in inviting the leader of the majority coalition to form the government and prove their majority within a short period,” Finance Minister and constitutional expert Arun Jaitley had tweeted at the time.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said the Congress and the JDS will never come together.

BJP SINGLE LARGEST PARTY

Even though the BJP was at one time leading in 121 seats, the tally has fallen to only 105 seats as of 2:30 PM

The BJP managed to beat the Congress in seat count even though it got fewer votes than the Congress as its votes were concentrated in a smaller number of seats, enabling its candidates to win in larger numbers. Congress’ votes were spread across all constituencies.

According to the latest numbers, the Indian National Congress got 98.3 lakh votes (38.0%), while the BJP got only 95.1 lakh votes (36.7%).

JD(S) got about 17.7% of the votes, and did much better than expected, hurting the Congress Party’s chances in the process.

Against just 30-35 seats that JD(S) was expected to win, it is likely to win close to 40 seats, going by the initial trends in leads. This mutual competition split several ‘vote banks’, such as Muslims and Vokkaligas, reducing their efficacy and helping the BJP win in those places.

For example, in the 22 seats with high percentage of Muslim voters, the BJP won 10, while Congress won 10 and JDS won 2.

Similarly, the BJP emerged a big party in the Vokkaliga belt, with 19 seats against 20 for JDS and 3 for the Congress.

The BJP won 38 of the Lingayat dominated seats, while the Congress won 19.

Overall, the BJP is on track to win around 110 seats, leaving around 70 seats for the Congress Party.

The results of the election could lead to an alliance between JD(S) and the Congress in the general elections of 2019.

BACKGROUND

The election was fought for 222 seats in the 224-seat assembly. Any party or alliance that secures 112 seats can stake a claim to form the government.

Exit poll results have predicted a hung assembly, indicating that all the cards are being held by HD Kumaraswamy’s Janata Dal (Secular).

Out of the 222 seats, 80-90 are expected to go to the BJP, while anywhere from 35-50 are expected to go to the JD(S).

Kumaraswamy has already claimed that his party will win majority on its own, and that media and pollsters are underestimating his outfit because it’s a regional player.

JD(S) is stronger in the Mysore region, and has its core support in the Vokkaliga community, part of the OBC classification. It also enjoys support from Muslim voters in the region.

Like Mulayalam Singh, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Nitish Kumar and George Fernandes, the leadership of the JD(S) too came up as part of the anti-Congress, Janata Party movement of 1970s.

While the BJP’s Hindutva tendencies makes it an uncomfortable ally for JD(S), the party’s traditional background in the ‘anti-Congress’ movement complicates its relationship with the Congress Party.

Moreover, JD(S) leader HD Deve Gowda is not keen on supporting a Congress led by C Siddaramaiah, who is also a Vokkaliga like him and part of the Janatha Party family.

Gowda is wary of his core voters shifting to the Congress Party if Siddharamaiah remains in power for too long.

To ease the concerns, the Congress Party has already indicated that it is willing to put up someone like Mallikarjun Kharge, who belongs to a Dalit community, as its chief ministerial candidate.

However, if the JD(S) wins more than 40 seats, it is also likely to insist on the Chief Minister’s post. Given that the Congress is keen to ensure that at least one big state remains part of its United Progressive Alliance, it is seen as agreeing to the demand as well.

For the BJP too, the results of the Karnataka assembly elections are crucial for showing that it is not just a cow-belt party.

Out of the 14 assemblies seen by the state since independence, the BJP has had a majority only in the thirteenth assembly, after which the Indian National Congress came back to power in 2013.

However, BJP’s victory in Karnataka in 2008 was a crucial moment in the party’s history, marking the first time it was able to expand into South India.

It would be keen to show that 2008 was not a flash in the pan and that it has the ability to accommodate the sensitivities and aspirations of people outside the cow-belt as well — something that is crucial for the party’s continued viability on a national level.

The party’s current leadership, drawn from Western India — outside its traditional North/Central Indian base, has been keen to diversify into South and East India. So far, it has had limited success in the South.

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