All eyes are now on Governor Vajubhai Vala who will have to decide whether to call BJP, the single largest winner of seats, to try to form the government or go with the JD(S)-Congress combine, which together have a clear majority in the 224-member Assembly.
Both sides rushed to meet Governor, their vehicles slowly cutting through the throngs of party workers and supporters assembled outside the Raj Bhavan gates, and staked claim to power.
In a roller-coaster ride for BJP, it initially appeared that the party was set to return to power after a 5-year hiatus with a resounding majority. But as all the trends became known, it appeared the party will fall a few seats short of the 112 needed to form the government.
Azad’s comments summed up the breathtaking daylong developments in an election seen as a bellwether for the 2019 general elections at a time when the saffron wave is sweeping the country. Karnataka was the only major non-BJP ruled state, and the party offices had reverberated with jubilation in the morning when initial trends put it ahead.
The swift political manoeuvring by Congress in reaching out to JD(S) headed showed that it had learnt its lesson after the debacle in Manipur and Goa where it failed to form the government despite being the single largest party because of BJP’s clever moves.
However, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa accused Congress of trying to win power unfairly. He said he would stake claim to form the government.
A sombre-looking Yeddyurappa said the people of Karnataka had rejected the Siddaramaiah government “lock, stock and barrel”.
After a high voter turnout, the Election Commission announced that the Congress had won 37.9% of votes as against BJP’s 36.2%. JD(S), headed by former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, got 18.4% votes. Gowda’s son HD Kumaraswamy is its chief ministerial candidate.
Soon after Congress declared its support to JD(S), Kumaraswamy wrote to the governor informing him that he had accepted the offer to be the chief minister.
The usual practice is for the governor to call the leader of the single largest party or pre-poll alliance to form the government, and in the event of a hung Assembly, asks him to prove the majority on the floor of the House.
Since the Congress and JD(S) did not have a pre-poll alliance, it remains to be seen if he invites Kumaraswamy to form the government.