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State has hung Assembly; BJP largest group

By A. Jayaram

BANGALORE, MAY 13. The people of the State have gone against the national trend. They have voted the Congress out of power and favoured the Bharatiya Janata Party to make it the largest group in the next Legislative Assembly. The BJP will also have the largest contingent representing the State in the next Lok Sabha. In the Assembly elections, the people have been emphatic in ending the Congress rule, but fought shy of giving a clear majority to the hitherto principal Opposition, the BJP, or the third force, the Janata Dal (Secular). But, in the Lok Sabha elections, the verdict is clearly in favour of the BJP and the leadership of the Prime Minister, A.B. Vajpayee.

In the 224-member Assembly, the BJP has 79 members, its electoral ally, the Janata Dal (United) five, the Congress 65, the Janata Dal (Secular) 58, and others 17. Of the 28 Lok Sabha seats, the BJP has 18, the Congress eight and the Janata Dal (S) two. The electorate has snubbed the two regional parties formed in recent months, the Kannada Nadu Party, which had whipped up the sentiment of neglect of north Karnataka, and the Urs Samyukta Paksha. It also did not give any space for the revived Janata Party. The Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna, this afternoon submitted his resignation to the Governor, T.N. Chaturvedi. Mr. Krishna appeared surprised over the results. "I was not ready for such a verdict," he said. He accepted responsibility for the decision to advance the Assembly elections in the State.

For the second time in 21 years, the State will have a hung Assembly, paving the way for the formation of a government through a "negotiated settlement."

The results of the elections held on April 20 and 26 constitute a mixed bag. The people have rejected the leadership of Mr. Krishna, an advocate of information technology and high technology, but they have not chosen the contrasting persona of a pro-farmer H.D. Deve Gowda, the former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (S) supremo. The elections have given the largest number of seats to the BJP, which had vied with the Janata Dal groups in espousing the cause of the farmers hard hit by the failure of rains in the past three years.

The results of the Assembly elections have proved at least one exit poll right, which did not want to hazard a guess and seemed to project a fractured verdict and a hung Assembly.

As the BJP has been denied a clear majority, interest now centres on the role of the Janata Dal (S). The party has so far said it would maintain equidistance from the Congress and the BJP. However, Mr. Deve Gowda's quarrels are only with the State Congress leaders and some Ministers, and not with the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi. The defeat of the National Democratic Alliance and the prospects of the Congress forming the next government at the Centre might also weigh with the Janata Dal (S). Both the Congress and the BJP are stated to be in touch with the Janata Dal (S). The general secretary of the All-India Congress Committee in charge of the party's affairs in the State, Vilasrao Deshmukh, is here. So has the BJP leader in charge of that party's strategy in the Karnataka elections, Arun Jaitley. The BJP leader is apparently planning to meet Mr. Deve Gowda. The BJP, which has described the verdict as a rejection of the Congress, is stated to be expecting the support of the Janata Dal (S) to form a government.

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