If Karnataka was the BJP's gateway to the south of India, the assembly election result on May 8 may just push the party to look for another. For, hardly has any polling agency or political pundit dared to predict its return to power.
The BJP government, ironically, stands accused of the misdemeanours that the party accuses the Congress-led UPA government of at the Centre: scams, crony capitalism, misuse of official powers, and trucking with the tainted.
Sunday's voter turnout made the Congress happy. The 70-plus percentage meant that the anti-incumbency was a major factor and the state was voting for a change in regime, said pleased Congress leaders.
M Veerappa Moily, union minister and senior state Congress leader, said the prevailing political situation would "certainly help the Congress achieve majority". Moily is unwilling to consider that the state could return an indecisive mandate. "There's no question of a hung assembly. I said the Congress will definitely form the government," he said.
The path to power has a few roadblocks such as internal rebellion and miffed senior leaders but if the Congress replaces the current BJP regime with a clear majority, it would halt the era of alliances in the state.
Congress veteran SM Krishna, now at loggerheads with state leaders, headed the single-party government from 1999 to 2004. In the last nine years, there have been governments of Congress-Janata Dal (Secular), BJP and Janata Dal (Secular) and BJP supported by Independents post BS Yeddyurappa's departure.
Yeddyurappa, who launched his Karnataka Janatha Paksha and campaigned hard against the BJP, was unwilling to accept that his party would get barely 10-15 seats as pollsters projected. "I don't believe it. The real mandate will only be on May 8," he told HT.
That day will also set the path for the BJP. "A miracle win will make the party stronger going into the Lok Sabha election but a defeat will make Karnataka the chink in the armour after Gujarat and other states returned BJP governments," said a senior party leader.
If the Congress was to forge alliances with the KJP and/or Sri Ramulu's BSR Congress, it would mean the return of the powerful mining lobby: the discredited Reddy brothers, who had supported the BJP and the Lad family associated with the Congress.