Karnataka election results: The Congress crushed the Bharatiya Janata Party in the May 10 election, winning 135 of the state’s 224 seats; the BJP won just 66.
Congress leaders Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar were sworn in as the new chief minister and deputy chief minister of Karnataka Saturday morning, a week after the party’s emphatic win in the 2023 Assembly election. Eight Congress MLAs – including party boss Mallikarjun Kharge’s son Priyank and ex-deputy chief minister G Parameshwara – took oaths as ministers.
Others who took their oaths today were MB Patil, KH Muniyappa, KJ George, Satish Jarkiholi, Ramalinga Reddy and BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan. Patil and Parameshwara were seen as possible chief minister candidates during the stand-off between Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar.
The first eight members of the Siddaramaiah-Shivakumar cabinet were approved Friday after consultations in Delhi between the two leaders and party boss Kharge and were chosen to ensure a diverse first cabinet.
Senior leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were on stage for the swearing-in, as was Mallikarjun Kharge; before the ceremony began news agency ANI shared a dramatic photo of Rahul flanked by the CM and his deputy.
However, ex-party chief Sonia Gandhi – credited with convincing the latter to accept a No. 2 role (for now) – was absent.
The CM stand-off
Siddarmaiah and Shivakumar were locked in a fierce stand-off in the days following the results, with neither sides willing to stand down.
Shivakumar – seen as the Congress’ troubleshooter – turned down two initial offers to surrender the top post, including his choice of six portfolios. Ultimately, discussions with Sonia and Rahul Gandhi helped break the deadlock.
Speaking after the announcement, Shivakumar claimed not have dismayed by having to settle for the deputy CM position after days of negotiations.
“When people have given such a big mandate, we should definitely be happy and deliver and fulfill the promises. That is our main motto, agenda,” he said.
Opposition show of strength (and absentees)
The swearing-in ceremony – a grand affair at Bengaluru’s Sri Kanteerava Stadium – was attended by a phalanx of opposition leaders, including Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav, the chief minister and deputy chief minister of Bihar; Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar; and ex-Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.
Also present was Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin and, of course, the leaders of all other Congress-ruled states – Bhupesh Baghel of Chhattisgarh, Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu of Himachal Pradesh and Ashok Gehlot of Rajasthan – as well as actor-politician Kamal Haasan.
There were some notable absentees in this mega show of strength by opposition parties ahead of the 2024 general election, including Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Telangana counterpart K Chandrashekhar Rao.
Both the Aam Aadmi Party and the Bharat Rashtra Samithi leaders have been talked up for a possible run at the prime minister’s post next year, with each touted as the head of a ‘third front’ – a non-Congress, non-BJP coalition.
Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee was also absent but did send a stand-in.
Election results recap
The 2023 Karnataka Assembly election gave the Congress a statement win – a morale boost ahead of next year’s general election. The party won 135 of the state’s 224 Assembly seats and nearly 43 per cent of the vote share. The results defied exit poll predictions that signalled a tight race and a hung Assembly.
One local channel did get it 100% right.
The BJP won just 66 seats – down from the more than 100 it claimed in 2018 as it struggled to break the anti-incumbency factor in a state infamous for voting out ruling parties.
The Janata Dal (Secular) – which senior leader and ex-chief minister HD Kumaraswamy expected would play the role of a ‘kingmaker’ in the predicted tight race – finished third with only 19 seats.