By B. Sarat Chandra Babu
A decisive defeat of the Congress ministry in Karnataka was mainly due to the anti-incumbency factor. Government'sfailure to look into the needs of the rural folk had left them unhappy. While Bangalore was ?shining?, the rural districts were neglected. Of course, S.M. Krishna was a man of action. He did a lot of development work in Bangalore and was instrumental for the growth of IT sector and gave a big thought for the future. But they were all at the expense of neglecting the needs of the common man and his basic needs of water and electricity. S.M. Krishna has totally failed in handling the Cauvery issue and taking measures to curb online lottery.
That the Karnataka voters have shown door to 31 of the 41 ministers of S.M. Krishna's49-member team is a clear message and as many as 16 ministers were defeated at the hands of BJP candidates. How can one explain this rejection of such a large number? Perhaps Krishna must have failed to assess the ground reality and a strong undercurrent of dissatisfaction among the people.
Even though the people have rejected the leadership of S.M. Krishna, they have not chosen a pro-farmer H.D. Deve Gowda, the Janata Dal (S) supremo. The BJP has emerged as the single largest party with 79 seats. The Congress has won 65 assembly seats and the Janata Dal (S) 58. Since, no party is in the reach of the magical figure of 113 out of the 224 seats, new alliance partners are being designed behind closed doors.
Even though the state has cracked the door open for the BJP, the fractured verdict in Karnataka Assembly is likely to pave way for a coalition govern-ment. BJP'sCentral Observers Arun Jaitley said that he had expected a more decisive verdict for his party. For the first time the BJP won 18 of the 24 seats contested for Lok Sabha and has become the single largest party with 79 seats and a total strength of 84 with its ally.
The Congress and the Janata Dal (S) have fought tooth and nail during the electioneering. In fact there were intense street fights between the party loyalists and opponents who refused to see eye to eye and count the merits wherever they got a platform. In many election meetings the JD (S) leaders had declared that once their party came to power it would send the ?corrupt? Congress ministers to jail. Shri Deve Gowda had branded the Krishna government as the most corrupt and anti-farmer. Shri Krishna and his ministers had often ridiculed the JD (S) leaders saying that they were good for nothing and people had no faith in them.
Shri Deve Gowda had made an open statement that the Janta Dal (S) would function as a ?true opposition? if it failed to get a simple majority.
The people have not reposed confidence either in the Congress or the JD (S), whereas the BJP has emerged as the single largest party by securing the highest number of seats?79. A clear indication that a non-Congress government should be formed in the state as the verdict was against the ruling Congress, which could secure only 65 seats as compared to 132 in the previous election. Winning only 65 seats, 67 fewer seats than in 1999, the Congress has suffered a 5.7 percentage negative point swing while the BJP has gained 7.63 points and the JD (S) 10.35, clearly indicating that the Congress has lost the popular mandate to lead a new government.
The bitter rivals, the Congress and the JD (S) are now busy building ?models??the Mahar-ashtra model or Jammu & Kashmir model. The JD (S) leaders are insisting on forming a coalition government on Jammu & Kashmir model, as per which, each party will rule the state for two-and-a-half years and the party which has secured lesser seats will rule the first two-and-half-year term. The JD (S) unanimously elected state party president, Siddaramaiah as its floor leader, giving hints that he would be their chief ministerial candidate. He was the Deputy Chief Minister in the J.H. Patel government. The Congress has a lot of anti-incumbency baggage. So we should go first, says a leader of the JD (S). However the Congress is looking on the Maharashtra model where the chief ministerial candidate should be from the party that has secured more seats.