Karnataka ended up with a fractured verdict as was predicted. Luckily for the exit poll lot, this election result suited them the best. Congress has failed to perform well and lost substantial support. The BJP gained from the anti-incumbency factor but failed to reach the magic number. Regional outfit JD (S) fared way beyond expectations. The reasons for the undoing of the Congress appear to be many. Apart from corruption, the gamble of declaring Lingayats as a new religion and thus hoping to attract that community seems to have backfired. This proves that outgoing Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s efforts to work as a regional satrap and tinker around with social issues did not bear fruit. The Congress leader lost one of his two contested seats himself.
As it turns out, Congress lost nearly half the seats it held in the previous assembly, which all formed into gains for the BJP. What cannot be ignored is that Karnataka has a history of not returning a party to power at every assembly election. It happened this time too, reducing the element of surprise. Yet, the BJP could not get what it had hoped to achieve in spite of Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi himself spending a week campaigning in Karnataka.
The BJP is a few seats short of majority and still has staked its claim to form the next government by virtue of it being the single largest party. However, the precedents set by the BJP in Goa, Meghalaya and Manipur in the recent past may prove embarrassing in Karnataka. In all those three small states, the BJP had failed to garner sufficient seats to form the government. But with the help of the respective governors, it managed to get itself and its post poll allies to be invited to form the government. By that yardstick, HD Kumaraswamy of the JD (S) should rightfully be invited by the Karnataka governor to form the next government. In the present case of Karnataka, after declaration of results, the Congress moved with unusual alacrity in extending unconditional support of its 78 MLAs to the JD (S) led front which won 38 seats.
All eyes are now on Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala. If the Congress and the JD (S) join hands to stake claim for formation of a government, propriety and precedence demand that they be invited first. Yet, the ability of the BJP managers cannot be underestimated although horse trading in the present scenario seems difficult as both Congress and JD(S) are considered well entrenched. The lesson that the Karnataka results have taught should not be taken lightly. The prime message is that certain civilities and formal operating procedures that need to be upheld by any governor should never be tampered with. In a democracy, anyone could be at the receiving end. Therefore, protecting institutions and standard good behaviour usually prove beneficial for all at very critical times.