New Delhi: Top leaders of the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) were set to meet on Thursday morning to chart the alliance’s future course of action after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders confirmed late on Wednesday evening that governor Vajubhai Vala had invited the party to form the government in Karnataka.

Karnataka returned a fractured mandate in assembly elections with the BJP emerging as the single-largest party with 104 seats, but still short of majority. Responding swiftly to the development, Congress-JD(S) announced a post-poll alliance even before the counting was over.

Congress party leaders have decided to hold protests in front of the Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru on Thursday but will take a final call on it after the meeting in the morning.

The idea behind the dharna is to not just protest against the governor’s move but also to prevent any attempts to buy out their just elected MLAs in order to reach the required number of MLAs needed to form the next government. The protest move is also planned to ensure that the MLAs of the alliance are in “public" view.

“We are keeping our options open. We have a meeting on Thursday morning following which we will decide on the protest," a senior Congress leader from Bengaluru said requesting anonymity.

Top leaders of the Congress and JD(S) held at least four key meetings through the day till late evening on a day that also witnessed a series of smaller discussions and parleys. These meetings were attended by MLAs, MLCs, MPs and other leaders from both the parties.

“Most of these meetings took place at the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) office in Bengaluru and a few discussions also happened at the hotel where JD(S) MLAs were stationed. Our leaders also met the governor today but we did not get anything conclusive so we are keeping a hawk eye on all developments," a senior Congress functionary in Bengaluru, who attended the meetings, said requesting anonymity.

As of now, the alliance has 117 MLAs—five more than revised simple majority of 112 seats —made up of 78 from the Congress, 37 from JD(S), one from Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and an independent.

Some of the key Congress leaders from Karnataka who are handling the discussions are D.K. Shivakumar, M. B. Patil, G. Parameshwara and Dinesh Gundu Rao. Key JD(S) leaders include H.D. Kumaraswamy, Danish Ali and A. Manjunath.

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