Karnataka verdict: JD-S` `kingmaker` hopes dashed

By Deepak Nagpal | Updated: May 13, 2013, 16:44 PM IST

Deepak Nagpal

The Congress is back in Karnataka with a bang. Having secured a simple majority in the state Legislative Assembly, the Congress is all set to independently form the government in the southern state.

The clear mandate has ensured that the national party will not depend on any regional ally or independents to run the government, ensuring stability of tenure and ease of governance.

Apart from the BJP and the KJP, the mandate has dealt a blow to the hope of HD Deve Gowda`s Janata Dal (Secular).

Deve Gowda’s son, HD Kumaraswamy was hoping that exit poll predictions would be little off the mark and the Congress would fall short of majority, thereby allowing it to flex its muscles and play the kingmaker`s role once again.

However, as the results trickled in, the JD(S) was forced to acknowledge the minimal role it has been left to play in the state for the next five years – of sitting in the Opposition and "safeguarding people`s interests".

"...if people have blessed us to sit in the Opposition, we will sit in the Opposition," H D Kumaraswamy told reporters,"...we will surely sit in the Opposition and will safeguard the interests of people."

Crucially, former CM Kumaraswamy`s wife Anitha has lost from Channapatna. Despite this, the couple can derive cold comfort from the fact that the two are the richest pair in the state with assets worth over Rs 123 crore.

The HD Deve Gowda family will also be pleased that JD(S) has beaten the BJP to third position. This means that Kumaraswamy will now be Leader of Opposition, as the JD(S) has won the second largest number of seats.

The party has also made gains in rural regions, preventing Congress win on many seats. It has done particularly well in the South Karnataka and Bangalore.

Performance wise, the JD(S) has also not just managed to retain its electorate base but also enhanced its vote share and further hurt BJP`s prospect, whose vote share had already been eaten by former party stalwart BS Yeddyurappa`s KJP.

While, for the JD(S) one option could have been to ally with the Congress and form the next government, another one would be to judge the mood of the electorate and use the next one year to prepare for the General Elections due next May (post verdict, this is the only option left). At the moment, Kumaraswamy’s statements suggest that it is inclined to the latter.

Sitting in the Opposition, the JD(S) can critically judge the Congress government and use its weak points to build upon the Assembly polls outcome and also score brownie points in the 2014 battle.

For the record: The JD(S) and Congress had formed an alliance government in Karnataka in 2004. However, in 2006, HD Kumaraswamy split with the Congress and joined hands with the BJP to form the government in a power sharing agreement. But when the time came in 2007, Kumaraswamy refused to vacate the CM’s post for BJP despite having agreed to a rotation earlier. Later, when he agreed to BJP installing Yeddyurappa as CM, JD(S) withdrew support over disagreement over sharing of portfolios, bringing down the government.