Bengaluru: With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka winning or leading on 104 seats with 12 short of majority, the Congress made an audacious dare for power by backing Janata Dal (Secular) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy for the post of chief minister. State Congress president G. Parameshwara told reporters in Bengaluru that the Congress would support the JD(S) to form a government. Chief minister Siddaramaiah, who plans to meet the Karnataka governor shortly most likely to offer his resignation, was with Parameshwara, and added that the “JD(S) can form the government and Congress would offer support".
At 9.50 pm, the Election Commission of India website showed results for 222 seats of which the BJP had won 103 seats and was leading on one, the Congress had won 78 seats, the JD(S) won 37 seats. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) won one seat and so did the new entrant Karnataka Prajnynavantha Janatha Party. One seat has gone to an independent candidate.
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who rushed to Bengaluru after Sonia Gandhi reportedly spoke with JD(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda, also said the Congress and JD(S) should meet the governor and stake claim to form the government “since they had the numbers".
The BJP chief ministerial aspirant B.S. Yeddyurappa told reporters that he would wait for the final results to come in.
Soon after early trends suggested that the BJP would reach the magic figure of 113, other regional parties pointed out that the Congress should have formed a pre-poll alliance with the JD(S). Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who has spurned Congress overtures to lead a coalition of anti-BJP parties in 2019 and has instead asked the Congress to support regional parties, tweeted saying the Karnataka results would have been “very different" had the Congress allied with the JD(S).
The Congress bid for power in Karnataka has to be seen in the context of the BJP outsmarting it in states like Goa, Manipur, and Meghalaya in the recent past, even though the Congress won more seats than the BJP in these elections. In Goa in March last year, the Congress, despite winning 17 seats to the BJP’s 13 in the 40-member assembly, was out-manoeuvred by the BJP, which stitched together a coalition with two smaller parties and independents to form the government. In exactly similar fashion, the BJP swiftly reached out to regional satraps and outfits in Manipur last year and Meghalaya earlier this year to beat the Congress and form governments.