New Delhi: In a virtual admission that the Congress may fall short of a majority in Karnataka – the results of which are being counted on Tuesday – its senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge has hinted that his party is open to an alliance with the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S).
"We will discuss the issue with the high command. I am going to meet Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ashok Gehlot and we will discuss it," Kharge told reporters here.
Correct position will be known at 11-11.30 am. I am going to discuss it( possibility of alliance with JDS) with Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ashok Gehlot.: Mallikarjun Kharge,Congress #KarnatakaElections2018 pic.twitter.com/vvUqunzVA6
— ANI (@ANI) May 15, 2018
The Congress veteran was, however, quick to add that it was too early to predict the outcome of May 12 Assembly election.
Kharge's Congress colleague Ashok Gehlot too said that his party is open to an alliance with the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) but is at the same time confident of winning the Karnataka Assembly election.
Remarks from Kharge and Gehlot came shortly after the initial trends showed BJP racing ahead in Karnataka pushing the ruling Congress at the second place and the JD(S) at the third spot.
Counting of votes for the 222 Karnataka Assembly seats began at 8 am at nearly 38 counting centres across the state, amid high security. As per the trends coming from the polling centers, it appears to be nail-biting finish between the ruling Congress and the BJP as of now. However, none appears to be winning a comfortable majority here. Interestingly, most of the exit polls had earlier predicted a hung assembly in Karnataka.
In one of the most high-profile and bitterly fought elections in the recent times, a total of 222 of the 224 seats went for polls involving a three-cornered contest between the ruling Congress, the BJP and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda's JD(S).
The polling percentage in the May 12 elections has been put at 72.13 percent by the Election Commission. However, it would be clear post noon whether the voters in Karnataka have given their verdict decisively as being claimed by the political parties, or for a hung assembly as projected by a majority of the post-poll surveys.
In case of a clear verdict in favour of the Congress, the grand old party will have broken the jinx of no political party retaining the reins of the state since 1985, when the erstwhile Janata Dal formed the government under Ramakrishna Hegde for a second consecutive term.
While a victory would help boost the sagging morale of the Congress, which is on a downhill journey losing state after state since Narendra Modi came to power at the Centre, defeat in Karnataka, the only big state it rules apart from Punjab, may further slow down the momentum for the party.
Losing Karnataka will also drastically weaken its claim for the leadership of a broader anti-BJP alliance that is being talked about.
In case the BJP gets the mandate, it reflects the enduring charisma of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his capacity to power his party to victory across the country, clearing demographic and topographical obstacles, in combination with party's president Amit Shah's strategy.
It would also further galvanise the BJP cadre before the Assembly elections in party-ruled Rajasthan, MadhyaPradesh and Chhattisgarh later this year.
The JD(S) may or may not win the elections, but will certainly play the kingmaker if the electorate gives a split verdict, making Deve Gowda an important player in the state politics once again.
With the JD(S) having had partnered with both BJP and Congress in the past, it would be tough to predict which way it will go this time in the event of a hung House.
(With Agency inputs)