After coalition rout, BJP puts K'taka govt on notice

HDK calls for an emergency meet

Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy

Buoyed by its resounding victory, the BJP issued a two-day ultimatum to the Congress-JD(S) coalition to decide its next move while uncertainty loomed on the impact that Thursday’s historic Lok Sabha mandate would have on the H D Kumaraswamy-led government.

“The Congress-JD(S) coalition should clarify to the people of the state what they will do next following this defeat,” BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa said, after the saffron party bagged 25 of the 28 Lok Sabha segments. This is the highest tally for a party in four decades, after the Congress had bagged 27 seats in the 1980 polls.

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“Their unholy alliance...should it continue or not? What is their next step? People are waiting,” he said.

According to sources, there are two predominant views within the BJP on the way forward. One — wait for the coalition government to collapse on its own due to internal bickering that may intensify following the drubbing and then go for a midterm election. Two — to stake claim and form a government after poaching disgruntled Congress and JD(S) MLAs.

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Kumaraswamy spent most of the day huddled with his father, JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda at his Padmanabhanagar home. Pressure is mounting on Kumaraswamy to step down, but it appears that the coalition partners have decided to stay put for now and hold on to each other for as long as possible. “People vote to decide who should form government at the Centre, not in the state,” coalition coordination committee chairperson Siddaramaiah said, defending the Congress-JD(S) government. He hinted that the Congress would retain the existing arrangement. “It won’t be right to spend time blaming each other. Since all of us are responsible for the loss, we have to face this together,” he said.

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Kumaraswamy, in a tweet, urged party workers not to lose heart. “The results of Lok Sabha are unexpected. I respect the mandate of the people...”

Kumaraswamy has convened an informal Cabinet meeting on Friday where he will discuss the drubbing the Congress-JD(S) alliance received at the hands of the BJP. Kumaraswamy has also convened a JD(S) legislature party meeting later in the day.

Voices of discord are expected to be raised within the coalition and the first one came from senior Congress leader R V Deshpande. He had initially opposed ceding the Uttara Kannada seat to the JD(S). On Thursday, he said: “We got the seat sharing wrong. The JD(S) was born out of an anti-Congress sentiment. We may join hands at the top, but booth-level workers will never do so.”

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