With counting of votes for Assembly elections underway in Karnataka, the fate of the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal Secular (JDS) hangs in the balance. As per the initial trends, the BJP and the Congress are in a neck and neck fight while the JDS seems to be making its position firm to get enough seats to play a key role in the formation of the government in the state.
If the Congress is successful in getting a clear verdict in its favour, the grand old party will break the jinx that no incumbent government has been re-elected in Karnataka since 1985, when the erstwhile Janata Dal formed the government under Ramakrishna Hegde for a second consecutive term.
However, if the Congress fails to secure Karnataka, it will worsen its position across the state. Congress has been on a downhill journey losing state after state since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power at the Centre. A defeat in Karnataka, the only big state which has a Congress government apart from Punjab, may further slowdown the momentum for the party. It will also drastically impact its claim for the leadership of a broader anti-BJP alliance that is being talked about.
If the BJP gets the mandate, it will further strengthen the position of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who will be credited for the success. It will also have a huge bearing on the Lok Sabha elections that are due next year and the party will project the win as the reflection of the 'charisma' of the Prime Minister 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. Not just the 2019 elections, assembly elections are also due in BJP-ruled Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh later this year.
The JDS is likely to play a key role in the formation of the government in the state. The JDS, however, has maintained that it would not join hands with any party and will win a majority. It has claimed that its chief ministerial candidate HD Kumaraswamy will be the "king" and not the "kingmaker". In case of a split verdict, Deve Gowda will become an important player in the state politics once again. With the JDS 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.