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Karnataka election results: Is the Congress-JD(S) alliance sculpted too late?

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    Bengaluru, May 16: On Tuesday, when the Karnataka election results started pouring in, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted stating that the Congress should have gone for a pre-poll alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S)) to restrict the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) "victory march".

    "Congratulations to the winners of the Karnataka elections. For those who lost, fight back. If Congress had gone into an alliance with the JD(S), the result would have been different. Very different," tweeted Banerjee.

    Siddaramaiah Kumaraswamy

    The BJP emerged as the single largest party in the elections in the southern state by bagging 104 seats out of 222. The polling took place in 222 constituencies on Saturday. The elections for the two remaining seats, both in Bengaluru, will take place in a few days.

    However, the BJP failed to get an absolute majority (which is at least 113 seats) to form the next government without any hiccups. Taking advantage of the situation and goaded by various anti-BJP forces across the country including CM Mamata, Telangana CM KC Rao and Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu, the Congress decided to join hands with the JD(S) to stake their claim to form the next government in Karnataka.

    As a part of the post-poll tie-up between the Congress and the JD(S), the latter seems to be in an advantageous position as the grand old party has readily agreed to give the coveted CM's post to HD Kumaraswamy.

    Reports say the Congress will back the JD(S)-led government for a full term without ever asking to give the baton to them. In a way it is a win-win situation for the JD(S) which has won only 38 seats with its pre-poll alliance partner Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The Congress, which in the last Assembly elections in 2013 won 122 seats, has managed to get just 78 seats this time.

    Leaders of both the BJP and the Congress-JD(S) alliance met Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala on Tuesday evening to stake their respective claim to form the next government. Reports say the governor has asked BS Yeddyurappa, the BJP's chief ministerial candidate, to prove the party's majority on the floor of the house within a week's time.

    Regarding the claim of the Congress-JD(S) alliance, the governor is yet to take a call, which has created a lot of buzz in the political circle of the country. Although the Congress-JD(S) combine has 116 seats (way past the majority mark), the BJP is insisting that the governor should give preference to the party with the highest number of seats (and in Karnataka it is the BJP).

    However, the similar logic was not applied when the Congress had to sit in the opposition even after bagging highest number of seats in the Goa and Manipur elections (last year) and the Meghalaya elections (this year).

    As the fate of the government formation in Karnataka hangs in the balance, legal and constitutional experts are doling out advices to the governor to help him take the "right" decision.

    The whole chaos and confusion surrounding the next government in the southern state could have been averted had the Congress and the JD(S) had stitched a pre-poll alliance to keep the "Hindutva forces" aside. They did not, even though the Congress and the JD(S) are together running Bengaluru's municipal corporation, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).

    Instead during the campaign, the Congress sharpened its attacks against the JD(S) by calling it the "B-team of the BJP". Both the parties, now partners, hurled allegations and fielded candidates against each other, helping the BJP in return.

    According to an analysis done by The Economic Times, of the 100-plus seats that the BJP has bagged in Karnataka, at least 34 seats could have gone to the Congress and the JD(S) had they allied before the polls. "The BJP reaped heavy dividends with the vote share split between Congress and JD(S)," stated a report by the English daily.

    Nonetheless, now, both the parties have come together in an attempt to build a secular front against the BJP amid murmurs of horse-trading, resort politics and operation kamala (a term coined by the BJP back in 2008 to win over MLAs from the opposition parties) in the state.

    Will the coming together of the Congress and the JD(S) be able to stop the BJP from forming the next government in the state? Well, all eyes are on the Karnataka governor now.

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