Bengaluru: The key takeaway from the Karnataka assembly election results seems to be the return of the Janata Dal (Secular) as a kingmaker, a contrast from its campaign days when it fought hard to avert a wipeout.
The Congress—which got the second highest number of seats—was forced to support the regional outfit, including surrendering the chief minister’s post, and almost all of its pride. This, though the JD(S) came third in terms of seat share.
The party, which has produced Karnataka’s only prime minister, now stands in the way of prime minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s conquest across the country’s electoral landscape.
Though the JD(S) fell short of its 2013 performance of 40 seats, Tuesday’s results highlight the revival of the party despite aggressive campaigns by both of its rivals. Its performance brings out the fact that its influence over Karnataka’s politics has just expanded enormously.
JD(S) is often dismissed by poll pundits from outside the state, but the party, led by former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda, has yet again proven why it remains an important player in the state’s politics.
With the latest turn of events, its influence could stretch nationally as well. Its performance will strengthen efforts of a possible united opposition to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2019 general election.
“We need to make the broadest possible coalition to fight the BJP/RSS combination," D. Raja, national secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI), said of the Janata Dal (Secular)’s performance.
Ruling out the involvement of the Congress in such a united opposition, Raja said that the Karnataka results would help teach the national party how to work with regional parties before the Lok Sabha elections scheduled for 2019.
Tanveer Ahmed, national spokesperson of the Janata Dal (Secular), said that no matter what the final result, “no party will be able to form the government on its own".
In a sense, nothing would be possible without the support of the Janata Dal (Secular), as it is the only party accessible to both the national parties in the case of a hung assembly.
Narendar Pani, a political analyst and faculty at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), said that around 40 seats is not a bad performance for the regional outfit.
“So, it’s a very good performance (by the Janata Dal Secular) and it allows them to project themselves as the main people who can fight the BJP in Karnataka. They are the ones who’ve benefited the most," he said.