Lok Sabha election results 2019: Karnataka Congress-Janata Dal decides to battle it out

Karnataka’s ruling Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition on Friday decided to stay strong, despite internal rumblings that often came out in the open over the past month.

On Friday, chief minister HD Kumaraswamy called an informal meeting of the cabinet to discuss the way forward.

After the meeting, deputy CM G Parameshwara of the Congress told reporters: “This election mandate was for the Lok Sabha and the country, and not for the state government. All ministers have expressed their confidence in the governance of chief minister HD Kumaraswamy. All our MLAs are with us.”

The government has called a formal cabinet meeting on May 27.

The two parties, who contested together for the Lok Sabha as well, were decimated in the polls winning only two of the 28 parliamentary seats. The BJP, which pocketed 25 seats, did not lose any time in terming the verdict a “referendum” and asking the HD Kumaraswamy government to step down. Karnataka BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa, however, said his party would wait and watch and not topple the government.

The coalition continues to have a majority in the state, though it lost in one of the two bypolls, as per results declared on Thursday. At present, the coalition has the support of 118 of 224 MLAs, which is higher than the simple majority mark of 113.

Kumaraswamy was affected by the verdict as both his son, Nikhil Kumaraswamy, and his father, HD Deve Gowda, lost the election from Mandya and Tumkur seats, respectively.

A Congress minister who was present at the meeting said on condition of anonymity that the coalition decision to cling to power stemmed from the existential fear that it would be wiped out in assembly elections too. The minister said both the JD(S) and Congress were of the view that they would not be able to fight an election under the present circumstances. “If we dissolve the government, the BJP might go in for fresh polls and we’ll be decimated in that too,” he said.

Currently, the BJP has 105 MLAs after it won the by-election to the Chincholi assembly seat. While the party can count on the support of one Independent MLA for sure, a BJP leader claimed the other independent MLA, who currently supports the coalition, could switch sides should the need arise.

A senior Karnataka BJP leader, who did not wish to be named, said the central leadership had asked the party to refrain from attempts to destabilise the government. “We will wait and watch the coalition partners bicker among themselves and damage their own reputations,” said the leader.

Meanwhile, the coalition partners have begun looking into the reasons for their defeat. Karnataka Congress campaign committee chief HK Patil took responsibility for the defeat and stepped down. JD(S) state president AH Vishwanath said he had offered his resignation after the results came in, but Deve Gowda asked him to reconsider.

First Published:
May 24, 2019 23:39 IST

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