It is a hung Assembly in Karnataka as none of the major parties – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and Janata Dal Secular (JDS) – could reach the halfway mark of 112 seats in the election results announced on Tuesday. While the BJP took the top spot winning 104 seats out of the 222 Karnataka Assembly constituencies where polling took place on May 12, the Congress came second with 78 MLAs and the JDS bagged 37 to end a distant third.
Sensing the BJP was too close to the halfway mark, the Congress quickly played its cards and offered an unconditional support to the JDS on Tuesday afternoon by declaring that it was willing to install the 58-year-old HD Kumaraswamy as the next chief minister of the state. The Congress move was a shrewd one as in spite of having more MLAs than the JDS, the party decided to give up the chief minister’s post to ensure the BJP was in no position to form a government in Karnataka. The Bhaujan Samaj Party, a pre-poll ally of the JDS, and Independent MLA from Mulbagal H Nagesh also declared their support for Kumaraswamy, giving the new alliance 117 seats, five more than the majority mark.
While Kumaraswamy would be the chief minister, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president G Parameshwara has been offered the deputy CM’s post. The JDS will also get 11 ministerial berths in Karnataka and the Congress 21. Even though the formula has been accepted by the JDS leadership of Kumaraswamy and his father HD Deve Gowda, there were murmurs of protest from the Congress Lingayat MLAs over the deal. The Lingayat MLAs, numbering about 10, are not in favour of giving Kumaraswamy, a Vokkaliga, the chief minister’s chair. However, the rebellion is still not serious enough to send the alarm bells ringing in the Congress camp even though some of the upset Lingayat MLAs are reportedly in touch with the BJP state leadership.