K'taka hangs by a thread
Even after the election results in Karnataka on Tuesday, in which BJP emerged as the single largest party with a seat tally of 104, the formation of a new government appears to be far from an easy exercise. So far, delegates from BJP and Congress-JD(S) combine have called on Governor Vajubhai Vala to stake their respective claims to form the government in the southern state. The Governor has said that he would take an appropriate decision at the earliest. In a major and swift development, Congress has agreed to play the role of a junior partner to JD(S) by offering its unconditional support to the party in its bid to form the government in Karnataka. JD(S) state chief HD Kumaraswamy, who has also called on the Governor with his claim to form the government, is finally on the threshold of becoming the Chief Minister of the state despite coming a distant third in the overall seat tally in the election. He has categorically rejected BJP's overtures refraining from lending its support to the saffron party in the latter's bid to form a new government. This is a new development and somewhat unexpected. Earlier, the idea was gaining ground that JD(S) may decide to go along with BJP as it brings the party the double benefit of being in power in the state as well as at the Centre where BJP might have offered some Cabinet berths to its representatives. But, in view of the party chief Deve Gowda's disdain for BJP, Kumaraswamy appears steadfast in his preference to Congress. This makes the task for BJP somewhat difficult as far as its ambition to form the government in the southern state is concerned. This also gives rise to the possibility of horse-trading and poaching of MLAs from other political parties. Kumaraswamy has already alleged that BJP is ready to fork out Rs 100 crore for each JD(S) and Congress MLA who changes their allegiance to support the Lotus party. In order to ward off any such poaching by BJP, Congress has decided to take all its newly-elected MLAs to a resort and keep them out of bounds till a government is formed. On Wednesday evening, Congress and JD(S) are scheduled to parade their MLAs before the Governor in their bid to show that they have the numbers to form the government. BJP has dispatched a central team to Bengaluru to coordinate the government formation efforts. The party expects that the Governor would invite it to form the government as it is the single largest party in the state. After it is able to form the government, it believes it would be able to garner the necessary support from some of the MLAs of Congress and JD(S) who might decide to support the BJP government in lieu of ministerial berths and other considerations. Now, it totally depends on the Governor whether he invites BJP or the Congress-JD(S) combine to form the government. Congress has indicated that it is open to move the Supreme Court if the Governor declines it an opportunity to form the government despite having the required numbers. After the election results, BJP President Shah proclaimed in Delhi that his party has won the Karnataka polls. He also reminded Congress that the voters in Karnataka have ensured that the state is Congress-mukt. Though Congress has come a distant second to BJP in the recently-concluded election in Karnataka, by deciding to support JD(S) it is trying to keep BJP out of power in the state. By the same move, the party has also signalled that it is ready to play the role of a junior partner in the opposition's overall strategy to dislodge BJP from power in the 2019 general elections in the country. In the recent months, various opposition leaders have taken initiatives to unite the opposition parties ahead of the general elections next year but their talks hit a roadblock on the question of the role that Congress can play. While some leaders were of the opinion that a federal front should be formed keeping Congress out of it, others were of the view that despite Congress being out of power in most states, it has still wielded considerable influence on voters across the country and the opposition's unity drive will be fruitless if it allowed Congress votes to go waste. By accepting a junior role, Congress can allow the opposition parties to formulate a common strategy against BJP.