We’re politicians, not saints: Minister Ashok says BJP has ‘operation’ if it doesn’t win majority; JD(S) ready for alliance

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai expressed confidence of BJP getting absolute majority in the 2023 Karnataka Assembly polls.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published May 12, 2023 | 6:14 PMUpdatedMay 12, 2023 | 6:15 PM

BJP Karnataka Elections

Amidst claims of winning a majority to retain power in Karnataka, a senior BJP leader said the party has an alternative plan to ride back to power.

Clarifying that the BJP would join hands with another political formation to return to power, Revenue Minister R Ashok said, “We are politicians, not saints”.

“We will get a majority in the Assembly polls. If the party doesn’t get a clear majority, we have a Plan B,” he told the electronic media on Friday, 12 May.

“On the directions of the high command, we have to carry out an operation and do some groundwork to form the government in Karnataka. Irrespective of the results, the BJP will be forming the government,” Ashok said that the party would seek an ally, if necessary.

Revealing the party’s hand a day ahead of the counting of votes, Ashok said the Congress would not form the government even if it emerged as the single-largest party.

South First Exit Poll: Congress could cross halfway mark

‘Congress won’t form government’

“Even if the Congress emerges as the single-largest party, it will not form the government. We will win the match and trophy,” he said.

“In the 2018 Assembly elections, the Congress had won only 80 seats but they made an alliance with the JD(S) and formed the government. Even we will make all the possible efforts to come to power,” Ashok told reporters.

Ashok is contesting from two Assembly seats: Kanakapura and Padmanabanagar. He is a senior Vokkaliga leader.

Most exit polls predicted a tight contest between the Congress and the BJP. A majority of them have also given an edge to the Congress over the ruling BJP while indicating the possibility of a hung Assembly.

A party needs 113 seats for a simple majority in the Assembly.

Related: Beyond the exit polls, what voting trends suggest

Bommai, ministers meet BSY

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai held a meeting with BJP Parliamentary Board member and former chief minister BS Yediyurappa at the latter’s residence in Bengaluru on Friday.

Ministers Murugesh Nirani and Byrathi Basavaraj, Rajya Sabha member Lehar Singh Siroya, and BJP leader AT Ramaswamy also attended the meeting.

“The leaders discussed the Assembly election results. The party is hoping that it will get 120 seats. They also discussed the party’s plans, if the party doesn’t get the majority,” a close aide of Yediyurappa said.

“We analysed booth-level reports from all the 224 Assembly segments. The party is confident of winning 108 seats,” Nirani told South First after the meeting.

“There is a 50-50 chance in around 35 seats and even if we win 12 of them, the party will get 120 seats. We will get a clear majority,” he exuded confidence and rubbished the exit poll reports.

When asked whether the party would ally with the JD(S), if it fell short of the majority, he said, the question does not arise:

“There is no question of an alliance as BJP will get the absolute majority. If the party fails to get a majority, the party’s decision will be out by tomorrow afternoon,” he said.

He also said that they didn’t hold any talks on allying with JD(S) during the meeting at Yediyurappa’s residence.

After the meeting, Bommai and Nirani held a closed-door meeting at a private hotel in Bengaluru.

Related: Parties exude confidence of winning majority

Bommai confident of winning majority

Amidst the anti-incumbency wave and exit polls predicting the possibility of a hung Assembly, Chief Minister Bommai said the BJP would cross “the magic figure”.

“The question of coalition talks with other political parties does not arise now. My stand has been the same and consistent that we will get absolute majority,” he told reporters.

“We have ground reports from all constituencies and districts. In some districts, we have collected booth-wise (statistics). We are confident that we will reach the magic figure,” he added.

Responding to a question about the Congress having allegedly booked resorts to keep its flock together, he said: “It means that they will not get absolute majority and hence they are in touch with other parties and indulging in such activities. It also shows that they don’t have trust in their legislators.”

“When we are confident that such a situation (need for a coalition) doesn’t arise at all. Indication is that we will cross the magic figure,” he reiterated.

Kumaraswamy wants to be the CM

With exit polls predicting a hung Assembly, the JD(S) is likely to be the kingmaker.

Its leader and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy had expressed willingness to ally with any political party that agrees to his conditions.

“I am confident of winning at least 50 seats. This time, I will go with the party that agrees to fulfill my conditions,” Kumaraswamy told Deccan Herald.

“As chief minister, I should have a free hand to run the government. I want JD(S) lawmakers to get plum portfolios like water resources, power, and public works. The coalition partner should allow me to implement promises made in the JD(S) manifesto,” he revealed his demands.

In 2018, the Congress made an alliance with the JD(S) and formed the government. Kumaraswamy was the chief minister for merely 15 months as the government collapsed after 17 MLAs defected and helped the BJP to form the government in August 2019.