Like other political parties, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had spoken confidently about coming back to power in last week's Karnataka elections. But after voting ended and the exit polls, the Congress appears to have had second thoughts about its performance and reached out to HD Deve Gowda's Janata Dal Secular, or JDS, for a possible alliance. The phone call was made to Danish Ali, the party's spokesman who had gone public with his party's preference to ally with the Congress rather than the BJP.
- JDS confirmed Congress reached out for alliance 3 days ago
- Danish Ali and Ghulam Nabi Azad met in Delhi, discussed possibilities
- Congress and JDS sealed post-poll alliance on Tuesday
"This was three days ago," Mr Ali told NDTV, speaking about the backroom discussions that led to the Congress and JDS to join hands and attempt to snatch the Karnataka victory from the BJP. On the other end of the line was the Congress' Ghulam Nabi Azad, the leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha.
It was a backup plan.
The two leaders quietly met in Delhi, discussed the possibilities and their response. "We did our homework," Mr Ali said, adding he updated Mr Kumaraswamy about the talks late on Monday night.
The crux was that if a situation presented where the two parties would have work together, they would have to act swiftly.
As the votes were counted on Tuesday and it became clear that neither of them would have the numbers, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Siddaramaiah sounded out Mr Ali that they may need to activate their Plan B.
Sonia Gandhi, former Congress president, called Mr Gowda this afternoon and they sealed the terms of their potential partnership.
Sources have indicated that the JDS had agreed to appoint a Congress leader from the Dalit community as Mr Kumaraswamy's deputy in the government. Mr Ali insisted that the Congress hadn't put any conditions during their talks but to a question about the possibility of Mr Kumaraswamy getting himself a deputy, said, "We will be happy if Congress nominates a deputy chief minister".
That is, if the JDS-Congress plan works.
But the BJP is determined to make sure that the combine doesn't snatch its chance to come back to power in a state after what PM Narendra Modi described as his party's "unprecedented" victory.
The BJP's BS Yeddyurappa insists he should be given first shot at forming the next government in Karnataka by virtue of leading the single largest party that has 1.4 of the 222 seats on which elections were held on Saturday.
The Congress-JDS combine counters this claim, staking claim because on grounds that the alliance has cornered 117 seats, much more than the majority mark of 112.
But Governor Vajubhai Vala is seen to relatively have a free hand to decide who to invite because there are arguments or conventions to support either course of action.
During the NDA government's tenure, governors had sent the invite to the coalition with the majority in Manipur, Meghalaya and Goa where the Congress was the single largest party.
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said if the governor invites the BJP, it would mean that "you are openly inviting horse trading, inviting defection in the parties and under the Constitution, as the head of the state of Karnataka, you should not...."