It was for the second time in last ten years the BJP came agonisingly close to attaining a simple majority in the Karnataka Assembly. While it fell three seats short of forming the government on its own in 2008, the opportunity eluded it once again in 2018 when it was short of eight seats. In a fractured verdict, every seat counts as the BJP would painfully learn in this election. Even Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who lost Chamundeshwari, survived a close scare in Badami. He won the election by a margin of 1696 votes over BJP’s Sriramulu.
An analysis of electoral data shows the BJP finished second in 12 assembly constituencies in which the victory margin was less than 3,000 votes. Among the 12 assembly segments, Maski was the closest of all BJP-Congress contests. The seat saw a tight finish with the Congress candidate Pratap Gouda winning by a margin of just 213 votes in the end. The other 11 seats are Badami, Gadag, Hirekerur, Kundgol, Maski, Sringeri, Yellapur, Athani, Bellary, Vijaynagar, Jhamkadi and Yenkemardi.
Had these seats swung BJP’s way, the party would have been sitting comfortably in the treasury benches with 116, four more than the required majority. If we expand the winning margin to between 2 per cent and five per cent of the total votes cast, then the BJP would have also found itself in troubled waters had there been any slipups. Data shows that in 16 of the 104 seats that BJP had won, the victory margin wasn’t too big. In comparison with the Congress, however, the BJP won convincingly in 85 seats where the margins were higher than 5 per cent. The Congress won in only a little more than half that number.
Meanwhile, the BJP, not a party to rue missed chances, has approached the governor and staked claim to form the government. This despite the Congress and the J(S) coming together to deny the BJP a second shot at power. As the drama continues to unfold at the Raj Bhavan, the final decision rests with the office of Governor Vajubhai Valla.