Post-poll, Cong-JD(S) govt could face numbers test

Post-poll, Cong-JD(S) govt could face numbers test

File photo of Deputy CM G Parameshwara along with CM H D Kumaraswamy at a public meeting in Bengaluru. Photo/B H Shivakumar

The outcome of the Lok Sabha election as well as the two Assembly bypolls slated next month could have a bearing on the longevity of the Congress-JD(S) coalition and trigger off a numbers game.

The coalition government headed by Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy could end up with a wafer-thin majority if two incumbent Congress legislators win the Lok Sabha polls and if the BJP wins the bypolls to the Kundgol and Chincholi Assembly segments.

The Congress-JD(S) coalition assumed power with a combined strength of 118 in the 224-member Legislative Assembly where the majority mark is 113. The BJP has 104 legislators.  

However, the coalition strength was reduced by two after the death of C S Shivalli and the resignation of Umesh Jadhav — both from the Congress — representing Kundgol and Chincholi constituencies, respectively. The byelection to these two seats is scheduled to be held on May 19.

The BJP is looking to win the Kundgol and Chincholi bypolls to increase its number to 106 while keeping the coalition at 116. In Kundgol, especially, BJP’s Chikkanagoudra Siddanagoud Ishwaragoud lost to Shivalli by just 634 votes last year. 

Also, for the Lok Sabha polls, the Congress has fielded two incumbent MLAs Krishna Byre Gowda and Eshwar Khandre from Bangalore North and Bidar Lok Sabha segments, respectively. If they win and choose to retain their MP seats, Gowda’s Byatarayanapura and Khandre’s Bhalki Assembly segments will fall vacant, reducing the coalition strength further to 114. With that, the total strength of the Assembly will be 222 in which case the majority mark will be 112. If disgruntled Congress MLAs choose to resign, the coalition will slip into a precarious situation.

Some disgruntled Congress legislators, it is feared, could sway toward the BJP, especially the likes of Ramesh Jarkiholi (Gokak), Mahesh Kumathalli(Athani), B Nagendra(Bellary) and J N Ganesh(Kampli). Besides these four, the BJP will need to poach at least four more legislators to stake a claim to form the government.

Kumaraswamy as well as Siddaramaiah, have maintained that a positive result in the Lok Sabha polls was crucial for the survival of their government. Senior Congress leader H K Patil, who heads the party’s election campaign, said the coalition will be safe even with a “wafer-thin” majority. “We will get into the numbers game only after the Lok Sabha election results, which will give us clarity on the political ambiguity.”