Karnataka election results deliver a hung assembly, all eyes on governor Vajubhai Vala

The BJP emerged as the single largest party in the assembly with 104 seats but fell short of a majority by 8 seats after the Karnataka election results were announced.
BJP workers hold cut-outs of PM Narendra Modi and BJP's chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa after Karnataka election results, in Chikmagalur on Tuesday.(PTI Photo)
BJP workers hold cut-outs of PM Narendra Modi and BJP's chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa after Karnataka election results, in Chikmagalur on Tuesday.(PTI Photo)
Updated on May 15, 2018 10:34 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Bengaluru/New Delhi | ByVenkatesha Babu and Prashant Jha

Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala will have to decide whom he invites to form the next government in the state after the elections resulted in a hung house with the Bharatiya Janata Party emerging as the single largest party with 104 seats but short of a majority by 8 seats. The Congress, which won 78 seats, in a surprise move extended unconditional support to the Janata Dal (Secular) which won 38 seats to form and head a government. Both the BJP and the JD(S)-Congress met with Vala.

Elections were held to 222 of the 224 assembly seats in the state. A party or coalition needs the support of 112 members to have a simple majority in the house.

Vala is yet to decide on who to invite to form the government and is expected to wait for the list of winners from the Election Commission, and discuss the issue with constitutional and legal experts. There is no law on this, but there are precedents and conventions of both the single largest party and a post-poll alliance with the numbers being invited to form the government.

The Congress seemed visibly relieved that it had moved fast to strike a partnership with the JD(S) and stake claim to form the government and followed up with a press conference in New Delhi to argue why the JD(S)-Congress should be invited to form the government. It also didn’t miss the opportunity to point out that this is exactly what the BJP has done in Goa, Manipur, and Meghalaya, where the party was part of a post-poll alliance invited, ahead of the single largest party, to form the government.

When asked what they would do in case the Governor does not invite them, Randeep Surjewala, Congress’s chief of communication department, said, “We will explore all options,” hinting at moving court.

Speaking at party HQ in New Delhi, BJP president Amit Shah said the mandate in Karnataka was for a Congress-free state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed the BJP’s win unprecedented. “I assure the people of Karnataka- we are with them in their development journey. We will work for the progress of Karnataka,” he added.While neither commented on it, Hindustan Times learns that the BJP is confident Vala will invite it to form the government and that it will be able to prove its majority on the floor of the house. A party leader in Delhi said on condition of anonymity: “We expect the governor to invite us. Once this happens, we will have time, a week or so, to prove our majority. I think many MLAs in the opposition will recognise that the mandate is with us.”

The BJP’s chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa declared that as the single largest party, the governor was duty bound to invite his party to form the government. “The verdict was against the Congress party. They are trying to get into power through the backdoor,” he said

Addressing the media in Bangalore after meeting Vala, outgoing CM Siddaramaiah and the alliance’s new CM contender, H D Kumaraswamy, said that they had the necessary numbers to form the government. The parties said they have submitted letters of support to the Governor. Siddaramaiah said: “Apart from the 78 seats of Congress and 38 seats of JD(S), we also have the support of both the independents who have won election, which means that we have the magic number required to form the government.” Kumaraswamy confirmed that his party had decided to accept Congress offer of support and JD(S) was ready to form a government.

BJP rushed its senior leaders and union ministers, Dharmendra Pradhan and Prakash Javadekar, to ensure that the party formed the government in the state.

While the Congress and JD(S) did not rule out the possibility of the BJP trying to get some of their legislators to defect, Siddaramaiah said it would be difficult. “They have done this in the past in 2008 as well, so it can’t be ruled out,” he told reporters, referring to the infamous “operation lotus” allegedly carried out by the BJP in 2008, when it fell short of a simple majority by five seats.

Earlier in the day, the BJP ran away with the lead and, at one point of time, was leading in 117 constituencies. The BJP did well in Mumbai Karnataka and Central Karnataka, indicating that there was substantial Lingayat consolidation behind the party and the Congress’ move to award separate status to the community had not worked. It also swept the coastal regions of the state, where communal polarisation was high. The Congress has managed to offer some fight in Hyderabad Karnataka but was laid low by anti-icnumbency. Even Siddaramiah lost in one of the two constituencies from which he contested. The JD(S) has done exceedingly well in the southern parts of the state comprising Old Mysuru districts, which is the traditional base of its Vokalliga base.

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