In Hung House, Who Says BJP Man Vajubhai Won’t Help Party Again?
Congress-JDS alliance is likely to make for an unstable government, which will hardly be a setback for the BJP.
The Karnataka verdict is out, and in line with the exit polls, the masses have delivered a hung verdict. However, it is only marginally hung and not severe. As of now, BJP is leading with 104, Congress is at 78, JD(S) is at 38 (including BSP) and Others is at two. In terms of vote share, BJP is at 36.2 percent, Congress is at 37.9 percent, and JDS + BSP is at 18.8 percent.
As per news reports, Congress has extended support to former Prime Minister Deve Gowda’s son Kumaraswamy as CM candidate, to prevent a mishap like in Goa and Manipur. The ball is now in Governor Vajubhai Vala’s court.
Hung Assembly May Not be Good News for Cong
As per news reports, senior leaders of Congress Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ashok Gehlot were already in touch with Deve Gowda since 15 May morning. Gowda had earlier categorically stated that he would not support BJP at any cost. While JD(S) has performed better than the polls predicted, its tally and vote share are lower than the 2013 elections.
Back then it had won 40 seats (vs 38 now) and recorded 20.2 percent vote share (vs 18.8 percent now).
Many commentators and analysts are suggesting they have done better; it’s not the case as results show. In each election after 2004, that is in 2008 and 2013, each time some polls have suggested a hung assembly and the role of JD(S) as kingmaker. However, they have been disappointed each time.
This time as well, despite a hung assembly, they may not get a chance to come back to power.
Even if current trends hold good, BJP, along with independents and others, will be at 106; only six short of a majority. The party is likely to stake claim to form government. The Governor, going by past conventions and precedents, may call upon the single largest party to form the government as Congress plus JDS is not a pre-poll, but a post-poll arrangement.
One must remember that Governor Vajubhai Vala vacated his seat for Narendra Modi in 2002 in Gujarat.
When the Governor of Goa didn’t invite the Congress, despite it being the single largest party, there is little chance the that the Karnataka Governor (a BJP appointee) will give Congress the first shot at government formation.
Gowda’s Role in National Politics Up in the Air
Just before the polls, Congress poached seven of JD(S)‘s MLAs. The results will start the process of JD(S)‘s disintegration. As Kumaraswamy himself pointed out to the Economic Times on Tuesday, winning or being in power is the key to their survival. Going by their past track record, BJP may try to poach its MLAs over due course. The Vokkaliga MLAs may shift to BJP and the minority to Congress.
The anti-defection laws are tighter now and it will be difficult to get 2/3rd JDS members on its side. However, it doesn’t need to do that. It just needs 12 MLAs of Congress and JDS to abstain on the day of voting in the assembly on the trust vote. This will bring down the assembly strength to 210 (222-12), and reduce the threshold of majority from 112 to 106, which is the current strength of BJP. This way, it will sail through the assembly, similar to what happened in Arunachal.
This also puts in question the larger role which Deve Gowda expected to play in national politics. A role in government in the state could have pitched him to an important position in a proposed United / Third Front.
JD(S) vote share dipped significantly in Lok Sabha elections compared to state elections (almost half), and it can win maximum two-three seats, as has been the trend in the last three general elections. Another possibility is that the party may get closer to Congress (as is already evident), and have an alliance with it for the Lok Sabha polls to save its skin.
JD(S) Might Miss the Bus Again
The results are also a sort of rejection of the politics which regional players like JD(S) have been playing in the state. It wants to play the kingmaker’s role, without providing a solid reason, manifesto, ideology.
People have seen how it had an arrangement with both Congress and BJP from 2004-2008 in a hung assembly situation where the state witnessed three Chief Ministerial terms.
The results, though in line with exit polls, are not of the scale which JD(S) would have hoped for. They would have been happier if results would have been in line with pre- polls, with the single largest party at 90-95. In that case, both Congress and BJP would have been trying to woo JD(S). As of now, only Congress is trying to pursue JD(S) while BJP hopes to make it through with some jugaad.
Also, BJP won't offer them the CM chair like Congress, especially after getting more than 100 seats. So JD(S) has a better chance to bargain with Congress than with BJP. However, chances of them being invited to form the government is low as discussed above, which exposes them to splits and defections. Hence, despite a hung assembly which the father-son duo had hoped for, JD(S) might miss the bus again.
Follow all live updates here.
(The writer is a freelance journalist who writes extensively on Indian politics. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
(The Quint is now on WhatsApp. To receive handpicked stories on topics you care about, subscribe to our WhatsApp services. Just go to TheQuint.com/WhatsApp and hit Send.)
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.