As Karnataka heads for crucial bypolls to 15 Assembly seats this week, the ruling BJP has high stakes in the results as it would decide the fate of the BS Yeddyurappa government. But the Congress and JD-S have their fingers crossed too.
Within the Congress, the anti-Siddaramaiah camp is active in trying to sabotage any attempt of his becoming chief minister again, an insider told IANS. The former chief minister was appointed leader of the Opposition in the Assembly by Congress Interim President Sonia Gandhi on October 9.
The anti-Siddaramaiah camp in Delhi and Bengaluru has been trying to impress upon the Congress leadership on a fresh tie-up with the Janata Dal-Secular (JDS).
Siddaramaiah sees this as a ploy to target him, so he is waiting for the results to put forward his claim. He has told the Congress leadership that any indication of kowtowing with the JD-S might be counterproductive before the polling as BJP will take advantage of the fact that the two parties are aligned.
A close aide of the former chief minister said: "He was busy in campaigning on Tuesday as campaigning ends today and any tie-up talks will happen after the results, if required".
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the alliance between the JD-S and Congress proved to be of no use. The BJP swept the general election, which led to the fall of the Congress-JD-S government.
The by-poll to the 15 seats is set for December 5 and counting will be held on December 9.
Congress sources in New Delhi said they are not in a hurry and will wait for the outcome of the results that will decide which way the party moves.
The party is non-committal at this moment about the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) for if its numbers increase in the Assembly, it will have a better bargaining capacity as it is not willing to concede the Chief Minister's chair to the JD-S again.
A senior Congress leader and former General Secretary, who did not wish to be identified, told IANS: "Anything is possible after the results, and we should consider rejoining hands with the JD-S in order to keep the BJP at bay."
While Congress leaders from Karnataka are not averse to joining hands with the JD-S, though the two parties are contesting against each other in the bypolls, the party leadership is cautious about predicting the state's future political contours ahead of the by-elections.
The Congress has given the reins to former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who is not in favour of aligning with the JD-S.
Much will depend on how things unfold, a leader said.
What led to the by-polls?
The by-elections were necessitated due to the disqualification of the 14 Congress and three JD-S rebel legislators after they resigned from their Assembly seats in July in protest against the functioning of the HD Kumaraswamy-led JD-S-Congress coalition government.
Their resignations led to the fall of the 14-month-old coalition government on July 23 as Kumaraswamy failed to win the confidence motion he had moved on July 18.
However, the by-elections are being held only on 15 seats. By-elections in two Assembly segments -- Muski (Raichur district) and RR Nagar (Bengaluru) -- have been withheld due to litigation in the Karnataka High Court over their results in the May 2018 Assembly elections.
After vote count on December 9, the ruling BJP, which has 105 members including a supporting Independent but excluding the Speaker, needs at least seven seats for a simple majority of 112 in the 225-member Assembly. The Assembly strength will be 223 due to the pending by-elections for the two seats.
The Congress, which had 80 members, including former Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar, has 66 after losing 14 members, while the JD-S, which had 37, has 34 after losing three members.
Both the parties have a combined strength of 100 and will need 12 more seats to stake their claim for power again in the southern state.
A split verdict in May 2018 Assembly elections threw up a hung House, resulting in the Congress and JD-S finally forming a coalition government on May 23, 2018 as post-poll allies, after BS Yeddyurappa, who was sworn-in on May 17 last year, resigned on May 19, without taking the floor test as his three-day government was eight seats short of a majority.