Karnataka: Congress polls more votes but wins fewer seats than BJP

With BJP falling eight short of the halfway mark and Congress offering support to JD (S), will the Governor invite the post-poll coalition or the single largest party to take the floor test?

Photo by Arijit Sen/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Arijit Sen/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

NH Political Bureau

At the end of a dramatic day in Karnataka, all eyes were on the elected MLAs and the Raj Bhavan which has received letters from both BJP and the Congress+JD(S) combine staking their claims to form the Government.

Congress polled 37.9%  of the votes compared to BJP’s 36.2%  but bagged 76 seats and was leading in two more at the time of reporting. BJP on the other hand bagged 99 seats and was leading in five more seats.

The JD (S), which polled 18.4% of the votes,  and the Congress together agreed to form a post-poll coalition and staked their claim to form the government. They cited results in both Goa and Manipur, where though Congress emerged as the single largest party, the post-poll coalitions led by the BJP were invited to form the Government.

With BJP falling short of the majority, the only option for it is to poach MLAs from the Congress and the JD(S) before or after the floor test.

BJP’s chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa condemned“attempts by the Congress to subvert popular mandate and trying to come back to power from the back door.”

However, by offering unconditional support to the JD (S) and swiftly backing H.D. Kumaraswamy  as the next chief minister, Congress appeared to have paid back the BJP in its own coin. It also succeeded in sending out a message to other regional parties that in order to have a non-BJP Government, the party would be ready to forgo its claim to power.

The Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) on Tuesday staked claim to form a government after the Karnataka election threw up a hung Assembly. Siddaramaiah, the 69- year-old leader offered Karnataka's chief ministership to his political foe Kumaraswamy whose party finished a poor third with barely 37 seats in its kitty.

After meeting Governor Vajubhai Vala, the Congress declared that it was giving unconditional support to the JD-S, which finished third in the race for power in the state behind the BJP and the Congress.

Outgoing Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said: "We have extended our support to the JD-S and conveyed our decision to the Governor."

"As we (Congress and JD-S) have the required majority, democracy allows us to form the government," Siddaramaiah asserted.

Siddaramaiah suffered a defeat in Chamundeshwari where he lost to G T Deve Gowda of the JD(S) by over 36,000 votes, but managed to win Badami by a slender margin of 1696 votes against BJP's B Sreeramulu, a sitting BJP MP and close aide of the controversial Reddy brothers.

Despite being considered an "outsider" by a section of the Karnataka Congress for his socialist roots, Siddaramaiah became the first chief minister since Devraj Urs (1972-77) to complete a full five-year term in office.

BJP’s chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa condemned “attempts by the Congress to subvert popular mandate and trying to come back to power from the back door.”

“People of Karnataka have rejected the misrule of Siddaramaiah lock, stock and barrel. People of Karnataka have voted for change. The State has responded to the call of Congress-free Karnataka by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he said, adding that “BJP has emerged as the single largest party and the anti-Congress wave has also given JD(S) considerable number of seats.”

(With inputs from PTI and IANS)

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Published: 15 May 2018, 8:22 PM