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Cong-JDS govt on edge amid fears of LS polls outcome impact on

Press Trust of India  |  Bengaluru 

As the Congress-JDS government in Karnataka led by H D Kumaraswamy completes one year Thursday, the ruling coalition is on the edge with the Lok Sabha results widely expected to have a bearing on its stability.

It was exactly one year ago that Kumaraswamy was sworn in as head of the coalition government after heightenedpolitical drama that saw B S Yeddyurappa, the leader of the single largest party BJP, resigning as Chief Minister of a three-day old government, unable to prove his majority in the assembly.

Kumaraswamy's swearing in on May 23, 2018 saw a galaxy of top leaders and regional satraps in a rare public show of unity, perceived as a possible harbinger of a broad-based anti-BJP alliance ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Exactly one year after that historic get together of leaders of non-BJP parties, that later came to be known as "mahagatbandan", results of Lok Sabha polls will be declared that will determine the very fate of those who aspired to defeat the Prime Minister Narendra Modi led saffron party.

Equally importantly, it is also expected to impact the longevity of the Kumaraswamy led coalition government here.

With pollsters predicting BJP will win big inKarnataka by bagging over 21 of 28 seats,compared to 17 last time,it has cast its shadow on any plans by the coalition to celebrate one year in office, as the allaince stability itself is at stake.

It has been a turbulent one year for the governmentthat came into existence as Congress and JD(S), arch rivals in the old Mysuru region, came together to form a coalition as the May 2018 assembly polls threw up a hung verdict.

Coalition worries,dissidence in alliancepartner Congress and a strong BJP with 104 MLAs allegedly trying to poach MLAs of the ruling alliance repeatedly aiming to destabilize the government marred the smooth functioning of the government.

Reflecting strains in the coalition, Kumaraswamy had even said he was "not happy" in the top post and was swallowing the pain like 'Vishakantha' (Lord Shiva), who drank poison.

Though putting up a brave face, coalition leaders decided to jointly fight the LS polls and reached a seat sharing agreement of 21 and seven seats for Congress and JD(S).

But it was not something grassroot level workers of both parties were okay with, especially in old Mysuru region, where they are arch rivals.

BJP is contesting 27 of 28 seats and supporting independent candidate Sumalatha Ambareesh in Mandya.

According to sources, despite efforts by both partiesto pacify their cadres and ensure transfer of votes to each other, the alliance has not worked in constituencies of old Mysuru region that may have its implications on the poll outcome and in turn the stability of the government.

Voices have started emerging in Congress to end the alliance, holding the partnership with JD(S) as the reason for the party's possible poor performance in the Lok Sabha polls, as reflected in exit polls,amid growing disgruntlement within.

Rebel MLAs like Ramesh Jarkiholi, who has been hobnobbing with the BJP,threatening to resign along with other MLAs after the Lok Sabha poll results, is causing worry to the coalition.

The BJP, on its part, has predicted the collapse of the coalition and increase in its tally in the assembly after the LS poll results,claiming that 20 odd Congress MLAs are unhappy with the government and may take any decision afterMay 23.

The Karnataka assembly has 224 members, in which BJPhas 104 MLAs, Congress-77, JD(S)-37, BSP (1),independent (1) (both currently supporting the ruling alliance),KPJP(1) and Speaker.

Two seats Kundgol and Chincholi are vacant.

Karnataka went for polling in two phases of 14 constituencies each on April 18 and 23.

Prominent contestants in the first phase were former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda (Tumkur), his grandsonsPrajwal Revanna and Nikhil Kumaraswamy from Hassan and Mandya, as also Union Minister Sadananda Gowda(BangaloreNorth) and senior Congress leaders Verappa Moily(Chikkaballapura) and Sumalatha Ambareesh (Mandya).

In the second phase, among prominent contestants were Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Union Ministers Ananth Kumar Hegde from Uttara Kannada, Ramesh Jigajinagi from Bijapur, BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa's son B Y Raghavendra and former chief minister S Bangarappa's son MadhuBangarappa of JD(S) from Shimogga, among others.

Of 28 constituencies that went to the polls, BJPhad won 17,Congress in 9 and JD(S) in two in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

However, during the by-poll in Novemberlast year BJP had lost the Bellary seat to Congress.

While BJP had gained a voteshare of 43.37 per cent in 2014 polls, Congress and JD(S) had secured 41.15 per cent and 11.07 per cent respectively.

The results of bypolls for Chincholi,necessitated by the resignation of Umesh Jadhav, who quit Congress and joined BJP to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Gulbarga,and Kundgol,that fell vacant following the death of Minister C S Shivalli, willalso be declared on Thursday.

As counting of votes in Lok Sabha polls will be taken up tomorrow, state electoral officials said EVMs in Karnataka are well guarded and kept safely with multi-layer protection.

State Chief Electoral Officer Sanjiv Kumar said the first set of results may start from 3 PM and may be over by 6 PM.

However, it can delay further too.

Generally, results would start from 12 noon, but because four hours additional time will be required (for VVPAT counting), "maybe from 3 PM onwards, we expect our results between 3 PM to 6 PM,"Kumar had said on Tuesday.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, May 22 2019. 18:36 IST