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Karnataka ka King Kaun: Congress, JD(S) may stitch alliance as BJP falls short

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Bengaluru, May 15: On a day of dramatic developments in the Karnataka elections, the BJP fell tantalisingly short of majority, paving the way for JD(S) and Congress to stake claim for forming a coalition government. But the ball is now in Governor Vajubhai Vala’s court.
The BJP won 104 seats, which was eight seats short of majority, (elections were held for 222 seats, two others being deferred) and the ruling Congress was reduced to 78 seats. But with Deve Gowda’s JD (S) getting 38 seats, Congress suddenly sprang to life, extending ‘unconditional’ support to JD(S).
The JD(S)-Congress combine fears that the BJP may try to lure some of their MLAs to abstain from voting if Yeddyurappa is allowed to form government and seeks vote of confidence.
Governor Vala has not revealed his mind and may take a day or two to decide on the next course of action. In fact, there are precedents of both the largest party and a group claiming majority being called to form a government.
Whatever the Governor may decide, the Congress seemed to have lost moral authority, after losing the election badly and Siddaramiah himself losing in Chamundeshwari and barely scraping through in Badami, as he had contested from two seats.
More than a dozen ministers, including Kagodu Thimmappa, HC Mahadevappa, H Anjaneya, TB Jayachandra, Umashri, Vinay Kulakarni, Abhiyachandra, Ramanath Rai and Assembly Speaker KB Koliwad were among those defeated.
In the BJP camp, Yeddyurappa from Shikarapur, Eshwarappa from Shimoga, R Ashok from Padmanabhanagar, Suresh Kumar from Rajajinagar and Kumar Bangarappa from Sugara wer among those victorious, but there was not much joy in the party office because of the uncertainties.
Over the next few days, one may see resort politics, which was the order of the day when the last coalition government ruled Karnataka between 2004 and 2008, as the parties try to keep their flock together and prevent poaching by the other side.
For the JD(S), if they manage to get chief ministership, it will be an unexpected bonus as they were only hoping to become a junior partner of a government in a hung assembly.
It is said that Congress and JD(S) have agreed to have 20 and 14 ministers from their respective parties (the maximum limit being 34) with the post of deputy chief minister and the Speaker going to the Congress.
The people of Karnataka, who came out in large numbers to vote — in fact, the voting percentage was an all-time high of 72.65 — have reasons to be disappointed as they are staring at a shaky coalition government which may not last long. If it comes to fruition, it will be the third coalition experiment in 11 years and the people do not have fond memories of those days as governance had taken a backseat to intense politicking.
Though Siddaramaiah’s government has been rejected, he will at least be remembered for giving a stable administration for five years.