In the thick of the IPL season, Karnataka is witnessing an edge-of-the-seat thriller of Indian Political League which has just moved to a super over to decide the winner. The hung verdict has thrown up several possibilities; Janata Dal (Secular) becoming a King instead of Kingmaker and forming a government with Congress’ support, a split in the JD (S) with the breakaway faction helping BJP, the single largest party, to form government or imposition of President’s rule in the absence of any viable formation. In the midst of all the chaos, cacophony of political moves and counter-moves, deals and back-channel negotiations, one thing is clear that the people of Karnataka have rejected the ruling Congress. It is a clear mandate against the Siddaramaiah government. Having emerged as the poor second in the race for power, it is unethical for the Congress to try for a back-door entry to power. As the D-day turned out to be a roller coaster ride for the main contenders with their fortunes fluctuating wildly by the hour, the Congress central leadership reached out to JD (S) supremo HD Deve Gowda and his son Kumaraswamy with an offer they could not refuse. As both the BJP, with 104 seats in the 224-member Assembly, and the Congress-JD (S), with a combined tally of 116 that is well above the magic number, have staked claim to form the government, the ball is now in the court of the state Governor Vajubhai Vala.
The post-poll bonhomie between Congress and JD (S), despite being bitter rivals all along, for the sake of capturing power raises questions over political morality. Keeping the BJP out of power seems to be their sole mission. Going by the swift reactions from the likes of Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati and Sharad Pawar pitching for Congress-JD (S) coalition to prevent BJP from coming to power, the template appears set for the 2019 general elections. The argument that all non-BJP parties should join hands and put up a joint candidate against the saffron party in all the constituencies will gain traction in the coming days. As per the convention, the Governor is expected to invite the single largest party to form the government. If it fails to muster enough strength, then other viable formations are given an opportunity to prove majority on the floor of the House within a specified timeframe. However, there have been precedents in the past when the Governor had invited a combination of parties who together claimed the required numbers. The BJP cannot claim high moral ground on this issue as it had pulled off political coups and formed the governments in Manipur and Manipur recently despite Congress emerging as a single largest party.