The performance of the Congress in Karnataka in obtaining a simple majority in the 225-member Legislative Assembly is expected to lead to a stable government in the State.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, which occupied centre stage after the last elections in 2008, has been relegated to the background. Winning just 110 seats in the last elections, it resorted to undemocratic practices to attain a majority and form the government which, in turn, led to the loss of its credibility right from the word go.
Having won the elections now, the Congress high command has to step in and ensure discipline in the election of the Congress Legislature Party leader given the fact that there are too many contenders for the post. The Leader of the Opposition in the last Assembly, Siddaramaiah, is in the forefront among the claimants for the post of Chief Minister although there are at least two others in the race: Union Ministers M. Mallikarjuna Kharge and M. Veerappa Moily.
Yet another contender, G. Parameshwara, president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, has lost the election from Koratagere constituency, which he had represented several times. Consequently, he may not really be in the reckoning.
Informed sources in the Congress said that the party high command will be sending observers to Bangalore to ascertain the views of the legislators on their choice for the legislature party leader, although this may end up as a mere formality. Only after that will the State party president formally call on Governor H.R. Bhardwaj and seek approval for the formation of the government. It will also be the prerogative of the Governor to direct the new government to seek a vote of confidence within a stipulated time, although he is unlikely to do so, given the numbers that the Congress has obtained.
The elections have also thrown up a new challenge — that of deciding on the principal Opposition party since both the BJP and the JD(S) have won 40 seats each. The new Speaker will have to decide on this matter based on a draw of lots. Also, the two parties could be given an equal term and the draw of lots could be for deciding which party will be assigned that position first.
By any account, the Congress has made a spectacular comeback quite similar to its performance in 1999, although at that time the party won a record 132 seats under the leadership of S.M. Krishna. Similar to the manner in which the Janata Dal was shown the door then, the BJP has now been cast aside by the electorate. It is now for the Congress leadership to prepare the ground here for an even better performance in the Lok Sabha elections.