Karnataka elections: Can JD (S) really emerge as 'kingmaker'?
With most of the opinion polls predicting a hung verdict in Karnataka assembly elections, it is being seen that a government can be formed only by the support of Janata Dal (Secular). The commonly debated scenario on most channels these days is that Congress or BJP may bag anywhere between 90- 105 seats and in case JD (S) wins around 20-30 seats then the government formation would be possible only if Deve Gowda-led party lends support. The majority mark to form a goverment in 224 seats Karnataka assembly is 113.
The above mentioned scenario has sunk in so much that any statement by Deve Gowda, Kumaraswamy or other JD (S) leaders instantly makes headlines. Yes, JD (S) may emerge as an important factor, but it would be too premature to actually dub them as 'kingmaker'.
We need to consider several scenarios here. If one of the two big parties - Congress or BJP - manage to bag over 105 seats then JD (S) may not be that important as the magic number of 113 can be attained with the help of independents and others. In 2013 elections, apart from big parties, 9 seats were won by independents and local parties such as BSRCP, KMP and SKP managed to bag around 7 seats. Any of the national parties winning close to 105 seats can expect support from these small entities which will rule out the need for an alliance with JD (S).
If the single largest party fails to breach the 100 seats mark, then of course JD (S) would emerge as the kingmaker. In that case, it would not be the bigger party, but the JD (S) calling shots as we have witnessed in the past.
Deve Gowda has ruled out an alliance with the BJP, and even said that if his son, HD Kumaraswamy, decides to ally with the saffron outfit then he would 'disown' him. Kumaraswamy also had been ruling out any possibility of alliance, but earlier this week he said "We will form government with any party that agrees to implement our manifesto."
While the Congress has openly accused the JD(S) as the B-team of the BJP, the BJP too has not subtly stopped from alleging that the Congress and the JD(S) are together. However, the JD(S), in its make or break election this time, has been maintaining that it will be the "kingmaker", clearly indicating that both the BJP and the Congress need its help to form the next government in the southern state.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in one his rallies recently, had praised JD (S) chief HD Deve Gowda and slammed Rahul Gandhi for 'insulting' the latter. This had given rise to speculations that BJP was trying to woo the JD (S). Responding to Modi's praise, Gowda had said that it does not mean that JD (S) would ally with the BJP. Deve Gowda had last month said that he would 'disown' his son, Kumaraswamy, if he allies with the BJP post-May 15. While Modi's comments have once again triggered the b-team debate, the BJP on record says that there will be no tie up. The BJP cites the past in which there was a term sharing arrangement with the JD(S) which went horribly wrong.
Karnataka is set to go to polls on May 12 and the counting would be held on May 15.