Exit polls had predicted a hung assembly, so had the poll pundits. But when the counting started at 7 am on Tuesday and the day rolled on, it appeared BJP would cruise to the magic mark of 112 to wrest Karnataka from the Congress, and inch a step closer to its aim, and dream, of establishing a Congress-mukt India (India without Congress).

A dampener came near the finishing line when it seemed the pundits were right when they said the third player, JD(S), would be the kingmaker. By the end of the day, from the role of kingmaker, JD(S) had emerged as the king of the 222-seat Karnataka assembly — with a mere 37 seats in its kitty.

Karnataka Verdict 2018 | Live updates 

The ball is in now the court of Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala. Supported by the Congress with its 78 MLAs, JD(S) has staked claim to form government in the state, even as BJP’s chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa has sought seven days’ time to prove majority in the House.

If the Governor heeds to BSY’s requests, which he may, BJP having emerged as the single largest party with 104 seats, there is every chance the party will manage to prove majority, for defection of a few rival MLAs during government formations is not something unheard of. And BJP has had much more adventurous outings in the last couple of years in such situations to be in power.

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And if the BJP wins this post-poll match again, it will have 21st state in its kitty, ruling over 69% of India’s population. And Congress will be reduced to just two states and a union territory – Punjab, Mizoram and Puducherry.

Even with Karnataka under Congress, India is already under a saffron cover. While Mizoram and Puducherry hardly give the Congress a strong footing, the party does not stand much chance in those few states either where the BJP is not on a very strong wicket — West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Odisha for example, which are ruled by parties that are not aligned with the Congress as of now. And though Trinamool Congress, AIADMK and Biju Janata Dal are big in their own states, they have little or no pan-India presence.

Though BJP-ruled Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh still hold out some hope for the Congress, things may be different if the Lok Sabha elections are called early to coincide with the state polls.

However, even if it wins the entire country, the Goliath BJP will be left with just one main Opposition and that’s the Congress. And no prize for guessing how much teeth the grand old party can have as Opposition in a Congress-mukt India. It can be safely said now a Congress-mukt India will be very much an Opposition-free India too.

The country should be prepared for that day. It won’t be anything new for India, though, as it has seen such a regime before. Only, the tables have turned this time round.