The plan: Yeddy or Delhi rule

The BJP leadership is determined to form the government in Karnataka and not allow the Congress-Janata Dal Secular combine to take power in the southern state, sources said.

  • Published 17.05.18

New Delhi: The BJP leadership is determined to form the government in Karnataka and not allow the Congress-Janata Dal Secular combine to take power in the southern state, sources said.

The possible electoral cost of a Congress-JDS alliance in 2019 is troubling the BJP and the party leadership doesn't want it to take shape. The combined votes polled by the Congress and JDS suggest that a repeat performance in 2019 might leave the BJP with just six of the 28 Lok Sabha seats -- a steep drop from the 17 it had won in 2014.

"A Congress-JDS alliance in the state will spell trouble for us. We will suffer huge losses in the Lok Sabha polls," a BJP leader from Karnataka conceded.

The BJP managers believe that once they form the government in the state, then they can work on JDS leader H.D. Kumaraswamy and wean him away from the Congress.

The party managers were certain that governor Vajubhai Vala would "respect the mandate of the people" and invite B.S. Yedyurappa to form the government as the leader of the single largest party. Once the Yedyurappa government is sworn in, the BJP will manage to prove majority on the floor of the Assembly, they claimed.

BJP president Amit Shah, in consultation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is personally monitoring the situation in Bangalore, sources said. Shah was closeted at his residence on Wednesday and was in touch with party emissaries on the ground, sources said. Three central ministers had been sent to Bangalore on Tuesday.

"Yedyurappa will be sworn in," a central BJP leader had claimed with confidence even before suggestions of a 9.30am ceremony on Thursday started circulating in Bangalore.

Party managers feel the sooner Yedyurappa takes oath as chief minister the better the chance for the BJP to prove majority.

In the worst case, if the Congress-JDS succeed in keeping their MLAs together and the BJP realises that it doesn't have the numbers to prove majority on the floor of the Assembly, Karnataka could come under President's rule and see a re-election along with the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, sources said.

The party managers are working on multiple plans to ensure the numbers on the floor of the Assembly.

• Poach enough elected members from the Congress, JDS and the others to reach the magic figure of 112 in the 222-member Assembly. The BJP has 104 and the party is confident it can manage eight more.

• Ensure around 15 elected members from the Congress and JDS do not turn up in the Assembly when the trust motion is put to vote. This will reduce the effective strength of the House and help the BJP.

• Evoke Lingayat pride associated with community leader Yedyurappa by blaming the Congress-JDS of stopping a Lingayat from becoming chief minister and use it to court the Lingayats elected on Congress and JDS tickets. As many as 21 Lingayats have been elected on Congress tickets and 10 from the JDS.

Minister defends governor

Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad strongly defended the Karnataka governor's decision to invite B.S. Yedyurappa to form the government, saying it was in accordance with the Constitution and slammed the Congress for attacking the governor.

Prasad said the governor's decision to invite the single largest party leader was in accordance with the recommendations of two commissions in this regard that were upheld by the Supreme Court.

The law minister said the Supreme Court's 2016 decision had also not put any bondage on the "discretion" of the governor in government formation.

Prasad said that both the commissions (Sarkaria and M.M. Punchi) had given preference to the largest pre-poll alliance, the single largest party and then the largest post-poll alliance, in that order, in case of a split verdict.

Asked why the Congress, single largest party in Goa and Manipur, was not given a chance to form the government, the minister said the Congress never staked claim in the two states.

"The Congress made a mockery of the Constitution and dismissed many state governments.... They shouldn't lecture on constitutional propriety," he said.