Bengaluru: A day before counting of votes polled in the Karnataka Assembly elections, both the ruling BJP and the Congress on Friday went into huddles and held strategy sessions on ways to keep the flock together. They also considered reaching out to independent candidates who are likely to win, as most exit polls predicted a tight contest between the two parties.
Hectic parleys were on at Congress president M Mallikarjun Kharge’s residence here, with AICC general secretary and in-charge of Karnataka Randeep Singh Surjewala, party’s state unit chief D K Shivakumar and former Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara among others.
According to party sources, they discussed ways to keep the flock (newly elected MLAs) together, and also regarding reaching out to independents to muster numbers in case there was no clear mandate.
The state recorded its highest-ever voting (73.19 per cent) in Wednesday’s polling to the 224-member Assembly. A majority of exit polls have given an edge to the Congress over the ruling BJP, while indicating the possibility of a hung Assembly.
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”We will be careful this time,” Parameshwara told reporters in response to a question on whether the Congress faced the threat of its MLAs being poached.
Congress Legislature Party leader and former CM Siddaramaiah, who is down swelling in his hand and is being treated by doctors, was in touch with the party leaders from his residence.
In the BJP camp, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai met veteran leader B S Yediyurappa along with other party leaders, including ministers Murugesh Nirani, Byrathi Basavaraj, party MP Lehar Singh Siroya and A T Ramaswamy, at the former chief minister’s residence.
Bommai expressed confidence about the BJP crossing the ”magic figure” with a clear majority, and said the question of coalition talks with other political parties does not arise now.
BJP leaders too are said to have planned a strategy to keep its newly-elected legislators together, and are making attempts to contact independents, mostly BJP rebels, as well as ”winning” candidates of smaller parties.
JD(S) too is expecting a hung verdict, which would enable it to play a role in government formation, and is making all efforts to keep its MLAs together.
In the absence of JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy, who is in Singapore for a health checkup and is expected to return tomorrow morning, party patriarch and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda has reportedly contacted party leaders and candidates who may win, over the phone and asked them to stay loyal to the party and its leadership, and to not to fall prey to allurements by other parties.
The three parties are also said to have contacted some independents who have chances of winning the polls, to get them on their side, keeping in mind the possibility of a fractured verdict.