The dust has settled, the numbers are out, but who will sit on which side of the Karnataka Assembly—and for how long—remains anybody’s guess. The hung mandate has put the popular adage ‘nail-biting finish’ under severe challenge: no nails are left to be bitten. The nerve-wracking tug-of-war is now firmly in its next phase: resort politics and equestrian events. B S Yeddyurappa is ready to be sworn in with 104 MLAs in hand and the promise of more to come. H D Kumaraswamy too awaits the podium with 115 in hand—his own 37 added to 78 of the Congress in support. That’s without counting out the alleged missing MLAs from the JD(S)+Congress camp. This being the scenario, it’s not the JD(S) but the governor of Karnataka who has emerged as the kingmaker.
This is not the first time that two competing sides are throwing precedents and Supreme Court rulings at each other. Similar situations obtained in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya. A more egregious example in fact came from none other than Uttar Pradesh. Politically appointed governors share a chequered history in this matter, and parties are the prime culprits. But that should not stop the two national parties from drawing a few lessons, short term and long term.
The BJP, as the largest party now, could do better than adopt short-sighted election strategies primarily designed to defeat the Congress. Its impressive tally of 104 in Karnataka was stuck in a hurdle race because it did not think it fit to take its allies along or expand its alliance platform. The same applies to the Congress, which could have had a reality check before the elections. A pre-poll alliance with the JD(S) would have saved it from the trouble of having to convince the governor post facto. It was obvious from bypoll results in other states that opposition unity is its best bet to counter the BJP under Narendra Modi. Not dreaming dreams of Rahul Gandhi’s prime ministership. For the rest of India, Karnataka is perhaps a call to the electorate to be a little more decisive.