Karnataka election: One poll, three parties, five possibilities

Bengaluru: Now that the votes have been cast, political pundits are busy sifting through the findings of exit and opinion polls and envisaging various scenarios. The Times of India looks at five possible scenarios that the counting of votes on Tuesday is likely to throw up.
Congress Crosses the Half-way mark
Siddaramaiah is most likely to be the chief minister. The only thing that could torpedo this is him losing from both Badami and Chamundeshwari constituencies. If Congress falls short of the majority by a handful of seats, it can always fall back on independents, many of who could be party rebels. With the demand for a Dalit CM growing louder, the party may decide to have a deputy CM with KPCC president G. Parameshwara being a strong contender. Congress may even opt for a Lingayat as deputy CM in furtherance of its efforts to enlist Lingayat support.
BJP crosses the Half-way mark
The party will form the government with B S Yeddyurappa as chief minister. Ballari MP B Sreeramulu, who is contesting from two seats, is likely to be made deputy CM with the party keen on consolidating support among scheduled tribes with an eye on the 2019 elections. In case the BJP falls short of majority by 4-5 seats as predicted by many exit polls, the party will still form the government with help from independents. It may later poach opposition MLAs, get them to resign and contest again as it had done in 2008 through its infamous ‘Operation Lotus.’
JD(S) becomes king with outside support
JD(S) may form the government with H.D Kumaraswamy as chief minister with outside support either from BJP or Congress. BJP might agree to support JD(S)from outside keeping the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in mind and also its resolve to have a Congress-mukt Bharat. Such a move will also dent the morale of Congress as it will remain in power only in Punjab, Mizoram and Puducherry. Congress might also give outside support to JD(S) to keep BJP out of power and to further its plan of stitching a grand alliance prior to 2019 Lok Sabha polls to face BJP.
Congress becomes largest party
The party enters into a power-sharing agreement with JD(S) and also draws support from independents to shore up its numbers. The terms and conditions of the deal are subject to the bargaining strength JD(S) draws from its numbers. In such a scenario, Siddaramaiah may not be the choice for the CM’s post owing to his ‘soured’ relations with the JD(S) leadership and a new face may emerge from Congress for the top post. Kumaraswamy may become the CM in case of an equitable arrangement where both parties get the post for 30 months each.
BJP becomes largest party
The saffron party may strike a deal with the JD(S). Again the details of the power-sharing agreement depends on the numbers the latter has. In case of a 30:30 arrangement, where the two parties will have their CM for 30 months by turn, BJP is unlikely to concede the first claim on the post to JD(S), given its previous experience with the latter. After agreeing to a 20:20 arrangement and occupying the CM’s post for 20 months, Kumaraswamy had refused to vacate the chair for BJP’s Yeddyurappa.

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