Karnataka Bypolls: 3 Possible Scenarios for BJP, Congress & JD(S)

If exit poll predictions of the BJP winning in 10-12 seats don’t come true, there is political uncertainty ahead.

Updated
India
3 min read

Voters of 15 constituencies in Karnataka have decided who their MLA will be. But the rest of the world, including these MLAs, will only know about the winner when the results are announced on Monday, 9 December.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stands to lose Karnataka, the only southern state under its charge, if it fails to win at least seven out of these 15 seats. The exit poll predictions of winning 10 to 12 seats has given the BJP a reason to be happy. Having said that, the exit polls have had tough luck in the past few elections.

So, here are some post-poll scenarios Karnataka may witness after the results on Monday, 9 December.

Scenario 1: BJP Wins

If the exit poll predictions come true, and the BJP wins over seven seats, it will be a huge relief for the saffron party, as it would retain power. But that's not the end of the BJP's problems.

In the run-up to the bypolls, the party had claimed that it would win all 15 seats. But in reality, the BJP will be happy if it wins even around 10 seats.

Surprised? Well, it has to do with the portfolio allocations.

All disqualified MLAs were promised Cabinet berths by the BJP, when they were approached with a proposal to change loyalties.

Now, there are only 34 Cabinet posts in Karnataka. And according to an internal survey of the BJP, there are 56 leaders who have won more than three elections or deserve to be ministers.

If more than 10 disqualified MLAs win, many BJP loyalists would lose their chance to be ministers. And already, there are some disgruntled leaders who are unhappy for not getting ministerial posts.

Winning 10 seats will put the BJP in a comfortable position, with 116 seats in the Assembly, which will provide it the flexibility to give Cabinet posts to loyalists, and keep discontent at bay.

Scenario 2: BJP Loses

But what if the exit polls are wrong and the BJP doesn’t get enough seats to retain power?

Then there are three possibilities.

First, if the BJP is short of one seat, its chances will lie with the Independent. And the party has already shown how far it is willing to go for that.

According to the exit polls, independent candidate Sharat Bache Gowda has a chance to win from the Hoskote constituency.

Even though he was expelled from the BJP for contesting as an Independent against the party’s wishes, the party is likely to bury the hatchet if the requirement is for just one seat.

The second option for the BJP is to approach the Janata Dal (Secular), which has already shown an interest in joining hands. But this depends on how many seats the JD(S) wins. The exit poll predictions differ in JD(S)’s case, ranging from 0-2 seats.

Scenario 3: Congress-JD(S) Join Hands Again

Now, the third option is the Congress and JD(S) joining hands once again.

Days before the election, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had said the Congress is open to another alliance with JD(S) if required.

This depends on how many seats they win, currently the JD(S) and the Congress together have 101 seats in the Assembly. To reach the magic number of 112, they have to win at least 11 seats in these bypolls.

For now, we’ll have to wait for Monday’s results, and if they don’t go in the BJP’s favour, the state will have to endure another round of political uncertainty.

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