JD(S)-Congress alliance stays firm for now; eyes on Guv Vala

Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala. DH File Photo

The Janata Dal (Secular) and Congress party’s post-poll alliance has staked claimed to form the government in Karnataka twice in two consecutive days. However, Governor Vajubhai Vala is yet to oblige their request, keeping political observers guessing if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could be given a chance to prove its majority first.
 
On Wednesday afternoon, after a series of meetings between the JD(S) and Congress at the Shangri-La Hotel and the Congress office on Queens Road, both parties led by H D Kumaraswamy, Siddaramaiah G. Parameshwara, D K Shivakumar and other top leaders, approached the governor with signed letters from all their elected representatives, asking to be invited to form the government.
 
Sources from both parties have said that if they are not allowed to form the government, they will attempt to sequester their representatives at resorts around Bengaluru. The ball is now in Governor Vala’s court.
 
On Tuesday, in a move to prevent the BJP from forming a government in Karnataka, the Congress party showed uncharacteristic speed in approaching the JD(S) to strike a post-poll alliance and stake claim with around 117 seats. The alliance would need 112 seats to constitute a simple majority.
 
The Congress leadership made the JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy an offer he couldn’t refuse: unconditional support, including the post of the chief minister, after their combined strength tallied at 117 seats after the results. Based on this, the JD(S) sent a letter to Governor Vala asking to be invited to form the new government. However, the governor is yet to oblige.
 
However, having come so close, the BJP’s leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and especially party president Amit Shah have said that they will not allow anyone else to form the government in Karnataka. The BJP’s chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa said he requested the governor to allow him to take oath as chief minister as early as possible. The governor, he said, had assured him that he would take an "appropriate" decision. 
 
The JD(S) and Congress’s elected representatives protested outside Raj Bhavan on Wednesday evening against what they believe is a delay on the part of the governor to invite them to form the government.
 
Inside Karnataka’s political drama: Why the Congress and JD(S) are worried
 
Backroom Negotiations
 
The real story of this election is unlikely to play out in the open. It will be decided in backroom negotiations and over phone calls.
 
Danish Ali and Ghulam Nabi Azad, who flew into Bengaluru on Sunday, are supposed to be the key backroom functionaries who stitched together the alliance with the JD(S), according to sources who were privy to the negotiations. They approached JD(S) chief H D Deve Gowda, Kumaraswamy’s father, and soon the broad terms of the partnership were agreed upon.
 
Azad, acting on instructions from party president Rahul Gandhi, is said to have directly called Kumaraswamy midday on Tuesday. After that Kumaraswamy spoke to state Congress leaders over the phone. None of the Congress leaders came to Deve Gowda’s house, as was reported in some sections of the media. Once the broad terms of the alliance were agreed upon, Kumaraswamy, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Siddaramaiah and Mallikarjun Kharge met at the governor’s residence where they staked the claim for the first time.
 
However, both the Congress and JD(S) leadership are worried about some of their elected representatives being lured away by the BJP since the saffron party needs only eight seats to form the government. Bengaluru has been rife with rumours of MLAs being approached late last night, with offers of amounts ranging anywhere from INR 15–25 Crores per representative, as well as ministerial portfolios in the cabinet.
 
Here are possibilities that could occur, according to political observers:
 
1. Elected representatives from the Congress and/or JD(S) resign and subsequently try and get elected in a by-election.
2. JD(S)-Congress representatives abstain from voting during the Floor Test and are then likely to be expelled from their respective parties, which would result in them losing their seat.
3. An extreme situation could also be that if violence breaks out in the Assembly during the Floor Test, there could be a law and order situation, giving the governor a chance to declare President’s Rule.
 
A Congress member explained the reason for worry thus: “They have spent significant amounts of money to get elected. Some of them are also in lots of debt. They could be desperate to get out of this situation. If they are being offered huge sums of money and the chance to be a part of a government, why won’t they consider? It’s easy to say they have to be bound by ideology, they should be true to their voters and all that. At the end of the day, this has been an election where money and caste have played a huge role. So some of the MLAs could be swayed.”

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JD(S)-Congress alliance stays firm for now; eyes on Guv Vala

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