Karnataka assembly elections: Why JD(S) needs a hung verdict
Bengaluru: To remain relevant in the state politics, Janata Dal (Secular), JD(S) needs a hung verdict in the upcoming Karnataka Assembly Elections.
Karnataka has never witnessed a hung verdict unless it was in a state of transition. For instance when the Janata Party emerged in the 1990s, the state had witnessed a hung assembly and the transition at that time was the emergence of a new party which countered the Congress.
The other time that the state witnessed a transition was in 2004 when the BJP was emerging as the main opposition to the Congress. Now it is 2018 and the politics has remained the same and while Karnataka is not in transition, almost all opinion polls have signalled a hung house.
The Times Now-VMR survey suggested that the BJP would end up with around 89 seats and the Congress would get 90. Interestingly the survey gives the JD(S) 40 seats. Another poll conducted by ABP-CSDS also pointed towards a hung house, but said that the BJP would emerge as the single largest party with 89 to 95 seats. The Congress would get 85 to 91 and the JD(S) could end up with 32 to 38.
Both the polls suggest that no party will be able to touch the magic mark of 113 in the 224 member house. This would also mean that for both parties to form the government, it would need the support of the JD(S) which again puts Deve Gowda’s party back in the position of kingmaker.
The JD(S) has very often said during its campaigns that it would be king and not kingmaker. While political analysts dub this as a far-fetched claim, they however add that the party would play a crucial role in the formation of the government.
Why JD(S) needs a hung verdict
For the JD(S) this election is more of a question of survival. It has been out of power for nearly 12 years now and if the party does not cobble up the numbers to at least be part of a government, the party would stare at an exodus. Staying relevant for the JD(S) which lost 7 MLAs to Congress is a key factor in this election. For the JD(S) to stay relevant it would need to at least touch the 40 mark and hope that the Congress or BJP falls drastically short of the magic number.
In the event of either the Congress or BJP bagging at least 105 seats, the JD(S) would be out of contention. At least 7 to 8 independents win from Karnataka in every election and they would happily join any government be it the BJP or Congress. In this event the JD(S) would hope that both the BJP or Congress falls short and ends up with 90 to 95 seats.
Gowda who has constantly denied being the B-team of the BJP would play his cards close to his chest in case the JD(S) is in contention to be part of a government. Currently the party is in an alliance with the BSP and has said that it would not support either the Congress or the BJP.
However, in the event of the JD(S) becoming the kingmaker, it would be interesting to see which way they would swing. In case the JD(S) is thinking of its national ambitions ahead of the 2019 elections, it would go with the Congress. However a truck with the Congress would definitely mean that Siddaramaiah, a former JD(S) man is the casualty. The JD(S) would instead back the many within the Congress who are in queue to become CM. The alliance would also not be a new one as the two parties have been power together for two years after the 2004 polls. The two parties are also in alliance in the BBMP as well.
If the JD(S) is sensing a return of the BJP in 2019, then it is likely to support the party in Karnataka as well. If the JD(S) ends up with 35 to 40 seats, it would demand a significant role in the government. The BJP for one would not concede the CM’s post. In this event Gowda would seek the post of Deputy CM for his son Revanna. The BJP-JD(S) have been in alliance for two years after the latter dumped the Congress in 2006. This was a power sharing of 20 months each, which the JD(S) had not honoured after it completed its 20 month term.
For now, the verdict looks hung and the JD(S) it appears would play the role of kingmaker. Will the tables turn and will any party inch closer towards 113? One would have to wait until May 15.