With exit polls hinting at a hung Assembly in the Karnataka polls, analysts feel there will be a return to resort politics — the practice of sequestering party MLAs in order to stop them from engaging in negotiations with rival parties. The State has a notorious track record of MLAs jumping ship last minute.
Counting of votes will take place on Saturday, May 13. While most exit polls are predicting an edge for Congress, none are forecasting a clear majority for either of the two top parties.
Karnataka saw a record voter turnout of 73.19 per cent, this time. In the 224-member Assembly, the magic halfway number is 113. In the last two decades, only in the 2013 polls — which saw Congress winning — has a party managed to get a simple majority.
The hospitality industry is keenly watching developments as in the case of a hung Assembly, political parties would shepherd their MLAs to resorts. Even before the results are announced, leaders have turned defensive. Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala who is the Karnataka in-charge of the party, in a recent tweet, had questioned about buses from Goa being spotted in North Karnataka. “What’s happening at Whistling Woodz Jungle Resort at Dandeli. Has Vishvajeet Rane booked six rooms here,” he tweeted.
Interestingly, HD Kumaraswamy, leader of the possible king-maker party JDS, has flown to Singapore post elections. He took a similar trip back in 2018 as well, before election results, which had elicited talk of him using Singapore as a safe base — away from any pressures — to conduct delicate power sharing negotiations with other parties regarding coalition.
The most recent instance of resort politics was in 2019, when ahead of a trust vote, the then ruling coalition (Congress and JDS) MLAs were put up in Taj Vivanta Yeshwantpur and Prestige Golfshire. Similarly, BJP MLAs were put up in Ramada Hotel, Yelahanka. The drama had ended with the BJP turning to be the ruling party after several MLAs switched over.
Political analyst Rajendra Chenni said, “There is apprehension within both national parties that the winning margin would be narrow, and in such a situation, MLAs crossing over and jumping ship can be expected.” The analyst also said a coalition government is perhaps a possibility this time.