Karnataka Assembly election results will be declared on May 15 and with a three-cornered fight between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and Janata Dal Secular (JDS) on several seats, the state could witness a lot of permutation and combination when it comes to forming a government. If a single party manages to secure a majority on its own, then it will be a simple affair but if the results throw up a hung house, then a lot of post-poll discussions will follow.
Even the exit polls have thrown up the prospects of a split verdict. While some of the exit polls after the May 12 voting showed the BJP emerging as the single largest party, a few gave the Congress more seats than its two rivals. All the exit polls point towards the former prime minister HD Deve Gowda-led JDS bagging a significant number of seats in Karnataka elections and in all likelihood playing the role of a kingmaker.
If the Congress manages to secure a majority on its own, it will be only the second time since 1985 that a party has managed to retain power in the state. In such a scenario Siddaramaiah will be the front-runner to be the chief minister. However, on Sunday he gave a statement that he is willing to step aside if the Congress leadership wants a Dalit leader as Karnataka CM.
However, if the Congress fails to win 112 seats out of the 222 which went to polls on May 12, then the party may find itself in a sticky situation. If the gap between the Congress tally and 112 is in single digits, then the party is likely to woo the smaller parties and independents in order to form a government.
But the situation will a lot tougher if the Congress ends up as the single largest party but needs the support of more than 10 MLAs to form the government. In such a case it will have to seek the support of the JDS which will demand its pound of flesh as the party is known to be a tough customer and in case of a hung assembly, it will without any hesitation initiate talks with the BJP too. In such a scenario, the chances of Siddaramaiah becoming the chief minister will diminish as he had quit the JDS in 2006 and joined the Congress.
For the BJP, too, the way forward will be the easiest if it secures majority on its own. BS Yeddyurappa will have the right to lay his claim to the chair of the chief minister and he will get a major say in deciding his council of ministers. The win will also be a boost to BJP's mission to secure a majority in the Lok Sabha elections scheduled in 2019. But if the party falls just short of a simple majority, then, too, it will hold the aces as it can easily get the independents and smaller parties on its side by virtue of being in power at the Centre.
Even if the BJP ends well short of the half-way mark of 112 and maybe behind the Congress in seat tally, it will have the advantage as the party can appeal to JDS and others by promising to ensure they are part of the NDA for 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
However, thigs will become interesting if the JDS manages to punch well above its weight and the result is a hung assembly where no party can form a government without its support. In such a case, the Deve Gowda and his son HD Kumaraswamy may well become the king instead of a kingmaker.