Karnataka got a taste of what could emerge in a three-way fight in the next year's assembly elections.
If either the ruling Congress or Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party fail to get a majority, the Janata Dal (Secular), the party led by former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, would decide the fate of who forms the next government.
Gowda's son H D Kumaraswamy, who is the JD (S) state President, could emerge as a kingmaker.
On Thursday, the Congress received a setback in the Legislative Council after its move to oust the council chairman D H Shankara Murthy, who belongs to the BJP, failed by one vote. Congress, which was 33 members in the 75-member council, had moved a no confidence motion against Murthy, hoping to replace him with its own lawmaker.
The JD(S) with 13 seats in the upper house turned the tables in favour of Murthy, much to the embarrassment of chief minister Siddaramaiah.
Thirty-six lawmakers voted in support while 37 opposed the motion, which was moved by Congress member V.S. Ugrappa. BJP has 23 members that includes the Council Chairman. At present one seat is vacant in the upper house of the state legislature.
Siddaramaiah was banking on support from JD (S), a party from which he defected after being denied the chief minister job, to Congress.
Kumaraswamy in his defence said that the Congress had erred in approaching him only two days ago, while BJP had sought his party's support on June 11.
"The Congress leaders did not take us into confidence before deciding to move the no-confidence motion against Murthy," Kumaraswamy said.
The BJP, which is eyeing a return to its gateway to the South, in the next year' elections has named former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa as its torchbearer in the state. After having got a clean chit from the Karnataka High Court in a corruption probe by the Lokayukta - that cost his job in 2011, Yeddyurappa has a tough task of mobilising his party for the polls. His open tiff with former deputy K S Eshwarappa has not gone with the party leaders and its cadre. The BJP had also faced a setback in the April bypolls for the assembly seats in April, when Congress retained both the seats.
Siddaramaiah, who has the blessings of Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi, has also struggled to keep a united front. He is banking on the Dalit and backward caste votes to bring him back to power the second time, while his performance over the last four years has been lacklustre.
Kumaraswamy, who had backed Yeddyurappa as the CM in his first stint in 2007, when the state saw an hung assembly is hoping for a repeat next year too. He has expanded his roots to North Karnataka, continues to nurture the Vokkaliga dominated South Karnataka regions. In the past one year, he has backed drivers who have been impacted by cab aggregators such as Ola and Uber, and is rooting for IT workers who have been laid off, in his effort to emerge as a kingmaker in 2018.