Government formation: Karnataka heading for a cliffhanger

Karnataka is heading for a cliffhanger as both the winner of the assembly elections Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as the two losers Congress and Janata Dal (S) have jointly staked claim to form a government.

BJP leader and former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa met the governor around 5 pm local time to stake claim to form the government. He reportedly told the governor his party would prove majority in the assembly.

JD(S) and Congress leaders together met the governor after 5.30 pm to stake claim to form government. After the meeting, Congress leader and incumbent chief minister Siddaramaiah told media that JD(S) will lead the coalition government.

The governor may be awaiting the final results from the Election Commission before deciding on the matter.

BJP has emerged as the single largest party in the elections despite falling short by six seats to reach the magic number 112  to secure absolute majority. Congress and JD(S), although opposing parties during elections, are joining hands now to stop their common enemy BJP from assuming power. They claim that together they have the numbers to form government.

Earlier, as soon as the election leads showed that Congress was facing a crushing defeat, it upset BJP’s apple cart by offering unconditional support to Janata Dal (S) to form government with its leader HD Kumaraswamy as chief minister.

Two senior Congress leaders Gulam Nabi Azad and KC Venugopal called up JD(S) supremo and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda (pictured) to discuss government formation. They assured Gowda that Congress will support his son Kumaraswamy as chief minister and they will not interfere with the allotment of portfolios to ministers.

Gowda agreed to the proposal and Kumaraswamy wrote a letter to the governor seeking an appointment with him to stake claim to form government.

At one stage, it looked as if BJP would form government in Karnataka after it took a formidable lead in the elections. But as the counting of votes reached the last round, the saffron party was leading in 106 seats while Congress was way behind leading in 77 seats. Janata Dal (S) was leading in 37 seats and independents in 2 seats.

The final results are expected any time now and BJP is hoping to secure the seats necessary to reach the magic number.

During the election campaign, Congress tried every strategy to retain power in Karnataka including dividing the votes of the Lingayat community who always stood by the BJP. Elections results suggest that the Lingayat community was not swayed by the Congress tactic.

Karnataka elections once again proved that Modi’s popularity has not diminished. Despite his late start in leading election campaigns in the state, Modi could galvanise voters.

Karnataka’s five regions overwhelmingly voted for BJP with saffron wave sweeping central Karnataka, Bengaluru and Mumbai Karnataka. In Mysuru region, where BJP is not strong, the votes got divided between Congress and JD(S). Here BJP votes went to JD(S) to defeat Congress.

For Rahul Gandhi,  the Karnataka results came as a big blow after taking over as Congress president.

The state election results are being viewed as a trendsetter for upcoming elections in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.