BJP emerged single largest Cong-JD(S) pulled a fast one

Governor Vajubhai Vala swears in H D Kumarswamy as chief minister of the JD(S)-Congress coalition government.

Karnataka witnessed a politically charged 2018 with parties fighting a no-holds-barred Assembly elections, the results of which pushed the state to another tryst with a coalition government after a gap of 10 years.

The build-up for the Assembly polls began much before the start of the year with the three major parties – the Congress, the BJP and the JD(S) – using every weapon in the political armoury to woo the electorate.

Election rallies commenced right from the beginning of the year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a mammoth rally at Palace Grounds in Bengaluru in February, perhaps setting the tone for
what was to come.

As the year progressed the frequency of the rallies increased and the campaign became shriller. After all, it was a question of survival for the Congress with Karnataka, at that point of time, being the only major state in the country which it ruled. An ambitious BJP, which then was riding a high with its ‘Congress-mukt Bharat campaign’ wanted to capture Karnataka and had set itself a “mission 150” target – to win at least 150 of the 224 seats in the Assembly.

The BJP used its time tested strategy of polarising the voters. The Siddaramaiah government’s penchant to celebrate Tipu Jayanti (whom the BJP has dubbed as a tyrant), the killing of RSS functionaries and the communal flare-up in the coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Uttara Kannada become a sort of poll plank of the saffron party.

The Congress tried to divide the BJP vote bank, batting for a “religious minority status” for Lingayat faith. Lingayats have been backing the BJP for nearly three decades now and a spilt in votes of the community could have proved disastrous for the party. However, that was not to be. The results of the polls proved that the grand old party’s strategy had no impact.

On results day, it looked like the BJP will sail through and secure a majority. But by noon, there was a dramatic twist in the tale, BJP was falling nine seats short of the magic number of 113 to form the government. Before the BJP got to know what was happening, the Congress which had won 78 seats and the JD-S (37 seats) stitched an alliance and the state returned to an era of coalition politics.

The nearly eight-month-old ruling alliance has seen several ups and
downs.

The Congress is unhappy that the JD(S) is claiming all the credit for the coalition government’s Rs 43,000-crore crop loan waiver scheme. Several legislators have been openly airing their grievance that issues related to their constituencies taken up with Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s office avail no response. It had to also face internal squabbles - be it D K Shivakumar vs Ramesh Jarkiholi or the cold war between Siddaramaiah and G Parameshwara.

BJP was blamed of trying to woo disgruntled Congress MLAs and destabilise the government. The BJP may have rocked the ‘coalition boat,’ but failed to overturn it.

Byelection setback

The BJP’s poor performance in the bypolls held for three Lok Sabha constituencies – Ballari, Mandya and Shivamogga – and two Assembly segments – Jamakhandi and Ramanagara – did hit the morale of the party.

Rumblings in Congress

Last week’s Cabinet expansion has resulted in the Congress becoming a divided house. There was growing discontent in the party over the delay in the Cabinet expansion. Now, the trouble for the Congress seems to have doubled and it will be a challenge for the leadership to
contain it.

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BJP emerged single largest Cong-JD(S) pulled a fast one

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