Nataka in full show

● BJP emerges single largest party but eight short of simple majority
● Cong does deal with JD(S), lets it lead coalition govt
● Kumaraswamy stakes claim, so does BSY
● Up to Guv to take call
● Modi indicates his party alone will form the new Karnataka govt

BENGALURU: Intense political drama unfolded in Karnataka on Tuesday as parties moved swiftly to grab power after the fiercely fought assembly election threw up a hung verdict with BJP emerging as the single largest party, winning 104 seats in the 224-member House. The Congress suffered a crushing defeat as it won in just 78 constituencies, a big fall from 122 it won in 2013, and JD(S) emerged as a distant third with a tally of just 37.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah himself suffered a huge defeat on his home turf in Chamundeshwari, but managed to salvage some pride by winning in Badami. Many Congress senior leaders, including 16 ministers, lost their seats. BJP’s chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa scored big win from Shikaripur in Shivamogga district.  JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy won from both Ramanagaram and Channapatna.

In a quick turn of events when the  picture became clear that no party would be in a position to form government on its own, the Congress announced it will extend unconditional support to
JD(S) to form a coalition government with H D Kumaraswamy as the CM. Not to be outsmarted, Yeddyurappa quickly got into the act by staking his claim. With rivals pushing their cases, all eyes are now on Governor Vajubhai Vala, who said he will consider both the claims and take an appropriate decision.The fight for power in Karnataka is set to turn ugly and go down to the wire considering the high stakes involved for all the three players–Congress, BJP and JD(S).

Determined not to repeat the mistakes it made in Manipur and Goa where it reacted late, Congress sprung into action and approached JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda offering support  when it became clear that BJP will fall short of the magic figure. Kumaraswamy immediately headed to Raj Bhavan with a delegation of Congress leaders, including Siddaramaiah, and submitted a letter to the Governor staking their claim to form the government.

Moments before, after coming to know of the Congress-JD(S) move, Yeddyurappa along with a delegation called on Vala and submitted a letter staking claim. He expressed his readiness to take the floor test within two days. Congress and JD(S) leaders apprehend BJP indulging in horse trading.Meanwhile, PM Modi and BJP president Amit Shah sent a clear message that BJP would not allow the rivals to “hijack the mandate”. Shah is expected to land in Bengaluru on Wednesday to put the strategies to work.

The Congress-JD(S) bonding is unlikely to be a smooth affair as it is said to have not gone down well with many in their own parties. “It is an abject surrender of Congress before Gowda. It will hurt Congress in the long run,” a senior Congress leader said. The move would also hurt the pride and ego of many senior Congress leaders like D K Shivakumar who has had a running feud with Gowda’s family. Shivakumar, who sees himself as a future CM candidate, now faces the situation of playing second fiddle to JD(S) top brass.

How the drama unfolded

12.30 PM: BJP surges in 114 seats with leads
1.30 PM: Celebrations begin at BJP offices
2.55 PM: BJP’s win/lead tally drops to 106, celebrations stop
3.30 PM: Congress announces decision to support JD(S) after Sonia Gandhi calls up  HD Deve Gowda
4.00 PM: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah meets Governor to submit resignation
4.20 PM: JD(S) leader Kumaraswamy writes to Governor saying he has accepted Congress’ support
5.30pm: BSY meets Governor, stakes claim
5.45 PM: Congress and JD(S) leaders jointly meet Governor
6.00 PM: Siddaramaiah and Kumaraswamy address the press jointly outside Raj Bhavan; vow to keep BJP out of power in Karnataka
7.44 PM: BJP resumes celebrations at New Delhi headquarters

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