Karnataka elections 2018: Uncertainty looms as BJP falls short of majority while Congress and JDS collide

By Elton Gomes

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) despite emerging as the single largest party in the Karnataka Assembly elections has failed to reach the majority mark in the 224-member assembly. BJP received 104 seats, whereas the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) (JDS) received 78 and 37 seats, respectively.

Since the BJP has fallen short of forming the government on its own, Congress reached out to form an alliance with JDS and has written to the Governor.

Earlier in the day, the polls seem to indicate that BJP was well on its way to secure the majority in Karnataka and doing so would significantly enhance their reputation prior to the general elections in 2019.

The polls

The counting of votes for the 222 assembly constituencies began at 8 am Tuesday. Elections in two constituencies of Jayanagar were postponed due to death of BJP candidate and sitting MLA Vijay Kumar. Elections were also postponed in Rajarajeshwari Nagar due to the recent discovery of a voter ID scam. 

A total of 2,654 candidates contested the assembly elections in Karnataka this year. The Congress fielded 222 candidates, whereas JDS fielded 201. The BJP fielded a total of 223 candidates.

Incumbent Chief Minister of Karnataka, Siddaramaiah was involved in a neck and neck contest with BJP’s candidate B. Sriramulu in the Badami constituency. The Chief Minister emerged victorious in Badami but lost in Chamundeshwari. According to the News Minute, Siddaramaiah won in Badami by a margin of roughly 4,000 votes.

The BJP’s candidate, Sriramulu was fielded from Badami and Molakalmuru. Sriramulu claimed that Siddaramaiah’s victory in Badami meant very little and it was a fluke.

The Indian Express reported that the BJP chief ministerial candidate B. S. Yeddyurappa won in Shikaripura by a margin of more than 35,000 votes. Yeddyurappa expressed immense confidence that he will return as chief minister and even announced May 17 as the date for his swearing-in.

News agency ANI reported that JDS’ H.D. Kumaraswamy was leading by a margin of 22,289 and 18,438 votes in Ramanagara and Channapatna constituencies, respectively.

Congress to form alliance with JDS

Even though the BJP was inching closer to forming a majority, there were reports of the party falling short. Sources claimed that the JDS would ally with the Congress and form a government in Karnataka. The News Minute reported that the Congress was planning to make H.D. Kumaraswamy the chief minister of Karnataka.

Siddaramaiah and Kumaraswamy spoke to the media while coming out of the Raj Bhavan. ”Congress has extended support to JD (S) to form the government with both parties put together have MLAs more than the magic number of 111,” Siddaramaiah said. “Democracy is run on numbers; numbers are in our favour.  The Governor after obtaining the list of elected MLAs from the Election Commission would take a call.”

The Congress’ last-gasp attempt to retain an important state garnered a lot of criticism.

In the meantime, Yeddyurappa slammed the Congress for its backdoor politics. Yeddyurappa stated that the BJP will decide the way forward after final figures are released. “Shortly we will be knowing the final figures, and then we’ll decide the future plan. I don’t want to talk about Congress or JD(S),” Yeddyurappa added.

So what now?

If the Congress fails to make any progress in forming a government in Karnataka, it will suffer a huge blow. Congress leaders were of the opinion that the party had failed to capitalise over the farmer unrest, lack of jobs, and increasing fuel prices. The BJP juggernaut has been successful in crushing the Congress. However, the Karnataka elections have given the party a glimmer of hope – the Congress polled 38% of over three and a half crore votes, whereas the BJP polled 37%.

Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius

IndiaIndian PoliticsKarnataka Assembly Elections