By Sushil Kutty
Everybody’s read the pebbles & thirsty crow story. However, this is the age of Social Media. So there’s a twist in the tale: The thirsty crow makes 69 trips to the river to get the pebbles to raise the water in the bottle to beak-level, but then it strikes: ‘Hey, why didn’t I just drink straight from the river?’ Similarly, if on May 15 both the Congress and the BJP fall short of majority and JD(S) becomes kingmaker or King, it might strike the voter: ‘Heck, why didn’t I just vote the JD(S) to majority!’
As it is, all but one exit poll point to a hung assembly. Only the Today’s Chanakya poll puts the BJP in a majority: 120 seats. And the Axis-India Today poll places the Congress ahead of the BJP. But every one of the exit polls places JD(S) at No.3, in the unique position to either be kingmaker or King if no party gets majority rating!
Just for the record, on voting day May 12, all three parties – the BJP, the Congress and the JD(S) – asserted that the each of them will get majority. But May 13, the Congress scaled down expectations. Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah – “sure to be renamed CM with a sure-shot Congress victory” – let it be known that in case the Congress falls short of majority, he will willingly make place for a Dalit CM. The finger pointed straight at Mallikarjun Kharge, Parameswar or whoever else is the Congress Party’s Kannadiga Dalit icon. Kharge, leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, had lost to Siddaramaiah the race to become CM in 2013.
Siddaramaiah’s concession seems to have come about after prospects of a hung assembly loomed. In case that will be and the Congress emerges single largest party – like the Axis-India Today exit poll suggests – it will be forced to seek an alliance with H D Devegowda’s JD(S) and though the former Prime Minister is not best of friends with Siddaramaiah, he may agree to support a Congress government if a Dalit is chosen CM.
In case the Congress bucks the exit polls and gets a clear majority, Siddaramaiah “hopes to be CM” once again, after being the first Karnataka chief minister in the last 30 years to have completed a full five-year term, a distinction that separates Siddaramaiah from Devegowda’s son HD Kumaraswamy and BJP’s BS Yeddyruppa, both of whom have been smarting because they could not go the whole nine yards when CM.
That being said, Devegowda would like it nothing better than to see son Kumaraswamy anointed chief minister a second time. The former PM, who drew praise and ire from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is not a stickler for secularism. If results throw a hung assembly there is no guarantee as to which of the two – the Congress or the BJP – Devegowda would choose to hang out with, the blonde or the auburn!
The BJP, meanwhile, is smug in the reassertion that it will notch up as many as 130-150 seats and BS Yeddyruppa will rule till the time he’s in Class V, the same as buddy Siddaramaiah was in. If that happens, BSY will have to thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the chance because it was Modi who tipped the scale with a blitzkrieg of a campaign in the last 10 days of electioneering. It will also be indication that BJP President Amit Shah once again was the well-oiled election machine.
As for the voter, he must be holding his breath, hoping he had cast his vote for the winning party/candidate. The turnout was impressive, 71%, drawing praise from the Election Commission of India, especially the women and “youth” voters, the ones who vote for the here and now, for bread and butter; roads and potholes and pubs and public transport. If the Congress does poorly in Bengaluru city, Siddaramaiah can take the whip to that Mohammed Harris Nallapad fellow, the son of a minister, who laid waste a common-as-they-come pub-hopper. Poor chap’s swollen face matched Harris’ swollen with papa’s power head.
Meantime, mainstream media is stuck with the results of the exit polls commissioned. India Today TV with Axis’s exit poll that put Congress on top. Times Now with the Times VMR poll too put Congress over the BJP. Republic TV with C-Voter and Jan Ki Baat which gave pride of place to BJP. Today’s Chanakya every channel wants to adopt but only if the orphan’s predicted correct and they wrong. At the end of the day, May 15 is results day for not just political parties alone.
Finally, drawing another bird analogy, no matter which party emerges single-largest and it’s a hung assembly, it will be the one that shares peculiarities with the blue rock pigeon which will get to perch on the windowsill! The pigeon is the only bird that can suck up water and whichever of the two – Congress or BJP – sucks up to HD Devegowda will run Karnataka. Pigeons can also play Ping-Pong and do flip-flops in midair. Prime Minister Narendra Modi may put it in more colourful language but it is not necessary for birds of a feather to flock together. Lookout for flip-flops and a game or two of Ping-Pong! (IPA Service)