The BJP and a combine of the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) separately staked claim to form a government in Karnataka after election results on Tuesday threw up a hung assembly, which means no party has a majority. The state’s Governor Vajubhai Vala will now decide which side to invite to form government
Counting began at 8 on Tuesday morning and 11 hours later, the BJP was leading in or had won 104 seats, eight short of the majority mark of 112. The Congress’ tally is 78 seats and that of the JD(S) is 37 seats, together 115 seats, Election Commission data showed. Independents and smaller parties have won three other seats.
In Delhi, the BJP’s highest decision making body, the parliamentary board, is meeting at the party headquaters to review the results.
Soon after became clear today that the BJP is the largest party but shy of a majority, the Congress offered what it called “unconditional support” to a JD(S) government, with its leader HD Kumaraswamy as Chief Minister. After a meeting with the Governor, Kumaraswamy said, “The governor has asked us to wait for two days,” claiming he had support of two independent MLAs too.
Minutes before Kumaraswamy walked into Bengaluru’s Raj Bhawan to meet Governor Vala this evening, BS Yeddyurappa, the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, walked out. Ahead of his meeting with the Governor the BJP leader said his party will “form the government 100%.” He said Karnataka’s voters have “given a verdict for change” and accused the Congress of making “unholy attempts” to grab power by offering its support to JD (S) leader HD Kumaraswamy to be the chief minister.
Both the BJP and Congress have rushed top leaders to Karnataka. “We had a telephonic conversation with Deve Gowda ji and Kumaraswamy. They have accepted our offer. Hopefully, we will be together,” said senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad in Bengaluru.
“They said the BJP is a party of Hindi-speaking states. Are Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, the Northeastern states Hindi-speaking states? No, the BJP represents India and our proud diversity,” said Modi, referring to places where his party has won elections.
“In 2019, we will not only form the government under the leadership of Modi Ji but also form a New India in 2022,” said Shah.
The Karnataka election is seen as the first major battle that sets the tone for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Up next this year are big contests in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
Ahead of the results, Karnataka was the last big state where the Congress held power apart from Punjab. Prime Minister Narendra Modi taunted the party during a bitter campaign, predicting that the Congress would be reduced today to the PPP party – Punjab, Puducherry and Parivar, the last a reference to the party’s first family the Gandhis.
The BJP worked hard in its bid to wrest back the state it lost to the Congress five years ago; Karnataka is the only southern state it has ever held power in.