Bengaluru: Janata Dal Secular chief HD Kumaraswamy’s quick trip to Singapore, squeezed in between voting in Karnataka on Saturday and tomorrow’s election results, fuelled speculation that the party has begun talks on government formation after the exit polls. Some aides insisted Mr Kumaraswamy, the son of former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, had travelled to Singapore for health reasons, while others suggested he had gone there to promote his actor son.
But sources also claim the JDS leader is holding political meetings which he didn’t want to hold in Bengaluru.
Mr Kumaraswamy is expected back on Monday evening, well in time for the counting of votes cast in the Saturday election.
On Sunday, a statement by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah telegraphed that the Congress is already preparing grounds for a compromise to get the Janata Dal Secular on board.
Mr Siddaramaiah said though he was ready for another term, he would step aside for a Dalit candidate if the party leadership wanted.
Karnataka election: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has indicated the Congress is already preparing grounds for a compromise to get the Janata Dal Secular (JDS) on board.
“I am very, very confident the Congress party will get a clear majority and I hope I will be the chief minister… If they want to make a Dalit a chief minister, I don’t have any objection,” he told reporters.
Asked whether he would simply step back without protest, he said: “I am not against anybody. You see, even the MLAs (legislators) have to give their opinion, is it not?”
It is well-known that Deve Gowda has still not forgiven Siddaramaiah for quitting the Janata Dal Secular in 2006 over Mr Kumaraswamy’s rise and joining the Congress.
Sources say Mr Siddaramaiah’s removal from chief ministership could be a possible rider for Deve Gowda to extend his support to the Congress. The party’s prominent Dalit faces include G Parameshwara, Mallikarjun Kharge and HC Mahadevappa.
Karnataka election: BJP’s BS Yeddyurappa has already set a date for his oath ceremony as the next chief minister of Karnataka.
Speaking to NDTV on his prospects, Mr Kharge said: “I will not respond to a hypothetical statement. It’s for the high command to decide. We fought the election under the leadership of Siddaramaiah… why do you look at me as a Dalit leader?” He was also confident that the party would win a full majority on its own, and not need the JDS.
The JDS has said it is the Congress’s “responsibility” to reach out if it did not get majority.
An aggregate of exit polls places the BJP ahead of all parties with 97 of the 222 seats where voting was held. The ruling Congress ranks next with 86 seats and the Janata Dal Secular is predicted to end up with 31 seats. A party needs 112 to form a government.
If the predictions bear out, neither the BJP nor the Congress can form a government on their own, and Deve Gowda and his son may be in a position to set the terms to the two national rivals.