The voters in Karnataka have given their verdict – a fractured verdict that though puts the Bharatiya Janata Party in the lead but short of majority and queered its pitch and robbed a chance to make Karnataka Congress-mukt, as it were.
The fractured mandate has put the ball firmly in Governor Vaju Bhai Wala’s court as the scene shifted to the Raj Bhavan with the two sets of contenders staking respective claims to form the government in the state. While the BJP claimed that it was the largest single party and hence had the first shot at forming the government, the Congress-Janata Dal (S) combine with a tally of 116 plus support of two independents claimed numbers to form the government.
With the appeal now pending with the Third Umpire (the governor), all eyes are now focused on the Raj Bhavan as to which of the precedents the governor would follow. The buzz in the BJP circles was that the governor was inclined to invite the largest single party to form the government and give it adequate time to prove its majority on the floor of the house.
The Congress and the Janata Dal have threatened to move the courts for justice if Yeddyurappa was invited to form the government first as it had no chance of getting the requisite numbers.
But even in that eventuality of governor giving Yeddyurappa the first shot at government formation, the Janata Dal (S) and Congress are confident that the BJP will fail the floor test as it cannot break neither the Congress nor the JD (S).
Janata Dal (S) spokesperson Javed Syed Aslam said, “There is no chance of any party MLA breaking ranks and help the BJP.”
Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda had even before polling had said that the BJP must be stopped at all costs. He had even said that if his son Kumaraswamy went with the BJP, as it was being suspected, he would disown him.
As feared by some political analysts, Karnataka turned in a fractured mandate, with the result none of the three contenders – the Congress, the BJP and the regional Janata Dal (S) -- were in a position to form a government on their own. The BJP though was within a striking distance, the Congress googly left it high and dry.
By late afternoon, the BJP tally stopped at 104, 9 short of the 113 majority mark in a 224 member assembly. The numbers of Congress 78 and the JD (S) 38 presented a chance to the Congress to deny the BJP the satisfaction of forming a government in Karnataka. For the BJP it was so near and yet so far.
The Congress had all but given up, but against the run of play, as it were by lunch time, the BJP appeared heading for a 120 seats tally and celebrations began in the state unit headquarters at Malleshwaram in Bangalore.
But the fast-changing trends gave a heart attack to the BJP supporters when the combined tally of the Congress and the JD (S) crossed the half way mark. It was around 2.30 pm when the former AICC president Sonia Gandhi hurled a bouncer – declaring support to Janata Dal (S) chief HD Deve Gowda in a phone call from Delhi and deputed two of the party’s veterans – Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ashok Gehlot – to seal the deal with the former Prime Minister.
The deal was to support Deve Gowda’s son HD Kumaraswamy to form the government with outside support of the Congress, which was shot down. It was only after the Congress agreed to join the government that Gowda relented and accepted the offer. For a change, the Congress moved with speed, something it did not and lost out Goa to the nimble footed BJP in a somewhat similarly placed situation with the Congress becoming the largest single party in Goa Assembly. But it was cheated out there by the BJP which cobbled up a majority.
In a tit-for-tat kind of a political power play, the Congress moved in fast and sealed the deal before the BJP could even realise what had happened. It was when BJP chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa was about to fly to Delhi to invite PM Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah for his swearing-in ceremony that the Congress bomb exploded.
He had to cancel his ticket and get down to deal with a situation that the BJP was somewhat unfamiliar and clearly short of numbers. “I will discuss the issue with party leadership, Amit Shah ji and take a decision" was all that he would say when media persons pressed him about his future course of action.
On a day of fast paced developments, the JD (S) lost no time and descended upon the Raj Bhavan staking its claim to form the government. The JD (S) CM candidate was armed with a letter of support offered by the Congress party for him to become the head of the government.
It was then that as per directives of Amit Shah, Yeddyurappa and union minister H Ananthakumar reached the Raj Bhavan and staked claim to form the government, with a request to prove majority on the floor of the house.