Three or four hours into counting for the Karnataka Assembly election on Tuesday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appeared set to claim a majority, laying waste to predictions of a Congress win or a hung Assembly that several exit polls had indicated. However, as the day wore on, it looked less and less likely that the BJP would be able to cross the halfway mark on its own. And in the end, the BJP was left with 104 seats, the Congress with 78 and the Janata Dal (Secular) with 38. The exit polls had largely got it right.
The Congress and JD(S) quickly attempted to cobble together a post-poll alliance, much to the chagrin of the BJP. However, one man bore the brunt of the outcome more than the rest: Siddaramaiah, the now former chief minister. Two visuals best encapsulate his response to the humiliation heaped on him by his own party after it decided to offer the role of chief minister to the JD(S).
First, there was the press conference.
#BREAKING 1st on CNN-News18 #BattleForKarnataka | Congress (@INCIndia) has extended unconditional support to JD(S) to form Govt in Karnataka: Siddaramaiah (@Siddaramaiah) addresses media outside Karnataka Governor's house " Raj Bhawan | #ElectionsWithNews18 pic.twitter.com/Yue3nOfM6f
- News18 (@CNNnews18) May 15, 2018
If it wasn't strange enough that Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee chief G Parameshwara addressed the media before the incumbent chief minister of the state, it was truly bizarre to see Siddaramaiah parroting the state unit chief's lines when it was his turn to speak.
Then, there was the visit of Congress and JD(S) leaders to Raj Bhavan to meet Governor Vajubhai Vala.
- ANI (@ANI) May 15, 2018
By this point, Siddaramaiah wore the look of a defeated and broken man. While Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge sat quietly next to HD Kumaraswamy, the JD(S) president and Congress' Ghulam Nabi Azad appeared to be involved in a deep discussion. Azad is seen reassuringly placing his hand on Kumaraswamy's arm, while the latter is ostensibly seeking his reassurances from the sheets of paper daintily balanced on the former's knee.
Off to the side, Siddaramaiah is seen sitting by himself, lips pursed and arms crossed defiantly, eyes looking off into the distance, almost as if trying to make sense of how he could have fallen down the Congress pecking order so suddenly. Whether or not the Congress and JD(S) combine form the next government in Karnataka, Siddaramaiah has declared that this election was his last and he shall not be contesting again. If and how he gets his own back against the party that sidelined him so swiftly and mercilessly, remains to be seen.