Karnataka poll results: Post-poll tie-ups to scupper single largest party not new; Congress, BJP have done it in the past
With Congress determined to form the government in Karnataka in a post-polls alliance with JD(S), it is quite ironic they party is resorting to the same practices it strongly opposed in other state elections where it couldn't form the government despite emerging as the single largest party.
With Congress determined to form the government in Karnataka in a post-polls alliance with JD(S), it is quite ironic the party is resorting to the same practices it strongly opposed in other state elections where it couldn't form the government despite emerging as the single largest party. Forming political coalitions after results are announced is not new, for both the BJP and Congress have indulged it in the past.
As Karnataka election results began trickling in on Tuesday, early trends established Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the lead, followed by the Indian National Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) at a distant third position.
After expressing confidence about sweeping the polls, Congress finally ended up with 78 seats, in bleak comparison to BJP's 104 seats. The JD(S) ended up with 38 seats.
Determined to learn from past mistakes, the Congress on Tuesday moved swiftly to remain in the game as it extended support to JD(S) to form a government in Karnataka after the BJP failed to get a simple majority.
"We expect the governor to listen to the mandate of the people... However, all options will always remain open to the Congress," party's communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala had said when asked what would the party do if the governor calls the BJP to prove majority on the floor of the Assembly.
"We expect Karnataka governor to invite JD(S)-Congress coalition which has a clear majority to form the government in the state. As per constitutional and legal provisions, the governor has no option but to invite the coalition," Surjewala said.
14 months earlier
"The BJP government is subverting law and democracy through their governors, who are acting as stooges," Surjewala had said 14 months ago after the Goa Assembly election in March 2017. This was when the Congress, despite winning 17 seats and emerging as the single largest party, could not form the government as the BJP (with 13 seats) allied with other regional parties to form the government.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram too had slammed the BJP for allegedly subverting democracy and making a backdoor entry to power in Manipur and Goa. He charged the saffron party of stealing the elections in these states which threw a hung Assembly.
On Tuesday, though Surjewala argued strongly for a post-poll coalition to form government, his words were quite the opposite when the BJP trounced the Congress in Goa (2017) and Meghalaya (2018) Assembly election to form the government.
A party that comes second has no right to form the Government. BJP stealing elections in Goa and Manipur.
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) March 13, 2017
In the same month, Congress won 28 seats in the 60-member Manipur Assembly, ahead of BJP by seven seats. However, BJP, backed by regional parties National People's Party (NPP - four MLAs), Naga People's Front (NPF - four MLAs) and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP - one MLA), formed the government, in a setback for Congress.
Victory continued to elude Congress in February 2018, when the party again emerged as the single largest one in the Meghalaya Assembly election this year with 21 seats, closely followed by National People's Party (NPP) with 19 seats. However, it was NPP that formed the government, backed by the BJP (two MLAs) and other regional parties.
Congress and coalition politics
For Congress, Tuesday's step to form the JD(S)-Congress alliance was also to provide a major boost to its "sagging morale" ahead of state Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, where the party sees an opportunity to upstage the BJP, and 2019 general elections.
Unlike in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya, where the Congress failed to form its government despite securing the highest seats, it forged a quick post-poll alliance with the JD(S) in Karnataka and staked claim to government formation.
Congress had indulged in the same practices during the 2013 Delhi Assembly election that it had staunchly opposed after the Meghalaya, Manipur and Goa polls. BJP had emerged as the single largest party with 32 seats in a 70-member Assembly, followed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which swept 28 seats. The results threw up a hung Assembly. It was the Congress which backed AAP at that time with eight seats to hit the majority mark of 36 seats.
President's Rule in Bihar after fractured mandate in 2005
A similar situation like Karnataka's arose during the 2005 Bihar Assembly election in February but the manner in which it was handled was very different.
Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) had won 75 seats, emerging as the largest party in the state, though not enough to form a majority on its own. It was followed by the Janata Dal (United) at 55 seats. BJP and Congress managed to get just 37 and 10 seats respectively. Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) won in 29 Assembly constituencies.
However, in March 2005, late president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam approved the Union Cabinet's decision recommending President's Rule in the state after Paswan refused to support either BJP or RJD, resulting in the government deadlock.
However, fresh elections were held in October-November 2005 where JD(U) won with 88 seats and formed a government in alliance with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), with Nitish Kumar as the incumbent chief minister.
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