The Karnataka Assembly election results threw up an unexpected suspense on Tuesday, as a simple majority tantalisingly eluded BJP and the Congress quickly proclaimed support to third-placed JD(S) to keep the saffron party out of power.
With 104 seats, the BJP has emerged as the single largest party in Karnataka although the saffron party failed to get a majority in the state assembly. The BJP’s rivals – the Congress and the JD(S)- have joined hands to stake claim to form the new government in the state.
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All eyes are now on Governor Vajubhai Vala who will have to decide whether to call BJP, the single largest winner of seats, to try to form the government or go with the JD(S)-Congress combine, which together have a clear majority in the 224-member Assembly.
Elections were held for 222 seats on May 12.
Both sides rushed to meet Vala, their vehicles slowly cutting through the throngs of party workers and supporters assembled outside the Raj Bhavan gates, and staked claim to power.
In a roller-coaster ride for BJP, it initially appeared that the party was set to return to power after a five-year hiatus with a resounding majority. But as all the trends became known, it appeared the party will fall a few seats short of the 112 needed to form the government.
Karnataka was the only major non-BJP ruled state, and the party offices had reverberated with jubilation in the morning when initial trends put it ahead.
Several BJP and Congress leaders rushed to Bengaluru from the national capital.
The swift political manoeuvring by Congress in reaching out to JD(S) showed that it had learnt its lesson after the debacle in Manipur and Goa where it failed to form the government despite being the single largest party because of BJP's clever moves.
Terming BJP’s “victory” in Karnataka Assembly elections “unparalleled and unprecedented”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that his party will not allow the state’s development journey to be trampled upon.
“I want to assure the people of Karnataka that the BJP will not allow the state’s development journey to be trampled upon. It will not lag behind for ensuring the state a bright future,” he said in an address to party leaders and workers at its headquarters.
Attacking those for spreading “lies” that the BJP is a party of north India despite it forming governments in non-Hindi speaking states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Assam among other states, Modi said people of Karnataka have given a befitting reply to those with such a “distorted” mindset.
“This is an unparalleled and unprecedented win,” he said.
Indirectly targeting Congress, PM Modi said that a party, which ruled the country for decades, has damaged the Constitution and the country’s federal structure by pitting north India against south India and spreading tensions between the Centre and states.
Elections happen but the attempts to harm institutions is a matter of concern, he added.
He also referred to the recovery of close to 10,000 voter identity cards in the state to target the opposition party and said some of its deeds was found out, some might have been not. A case was registered against the Congress candidate there with the Election Commission deferring poll in that constituency.
Nadda, Pradhan to attend Karnataka MLA meet on Wednesday as central observers
Senior leaders J P Nadda and Dharmendra Pradhan will attend a meeting of the newly-elected BJP MLAs in Bengaluru on Wednesday as the party's central observers. The decision to send the two leaders to Bengaluru was taken by the BJP parliamentary board.
"J P Nadda and Dharmendra Pradhan will attend the meeting of newly-elected MLAs of the party at 11 am tomorrow in Bengaluru. They would be the central observers," BJP media in-charge Anil Baluni told reporters.
With the BJP appearing to be falling short of a majority after the results of the Karnataka assembly polls were declared, the party rushed its three senior leaders to the state to talk with possible allies to cobble up the numbers required to form the next government in the state.
Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan, Prakash Javadekar and J P Nadda left for Bengaluru after meeting BJP chief Amit Shah in New Delhi on Tuesday afternoon. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was also present at Shah's residence.
Will fight for those who voted for Congress: Rahul Gandhi
Congress President Rahul Gandhi thanked the people of Karnataka who voted for the party, saying it will fight for them. He also praised the party workers and leaders for their dedication and hard work in the Karnataka assembly elections.
"A big thank you to all those who voted for the Congress in these elections. We appreciate your support and will fight for you. "Thank you also to our workers and leaders for their dedication and untiring hard work in support of the party," he said on Twitter.
Karnataka results- A twist in the tale- What next?
BJP leader and its Chief Ministerial candidate B.S. Yeddyurappa met and urged the Governor to let him prove his majority support in the Karnataka Assembly. He was accompanied by Union Minister Ananth Kumar. Soon after BJP, Congress-JDS too knocked the door of the Governor to stake claim for government formation.
The ball now lies in the Governor's court. According to usual practice, the Governor calls the leader of the single largest party or pre-poll alliance to form the government.
In the case of a hung Assembly, the leader is asked to prove the majority on the floor of the House within a stipulated time.
In Karnataka, the Congress and JD-S did not have a pre-poll alliance. However, it is for the Governor to take a call on who to invite first.
The dramatic turn of events that saw BJP's jubilations swinging up and down throughout the day spoiled its hopes to form its own government in Karnataka -- its gateway to the south.
Mocking at the "desperation of a defeated Congress" to support the JD-S to form a coalition government to keep the BJP out of power, BJP spokesman Shantaram said his party was open to an alliance with the JD-S or seek its support to form the new government.
BJP activists and leaders earlier celebrated noisily in both Bengaluru and New Delhi, waving party flags and shouting slogans hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, their main vote-getter, and Amit Shah.
Expectations of a BJP victory in Karnataka lifted the key Indian equity indices during the mid-morning trade session on Tuesday. But the markets later went into the red.