Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday confirmed that the party had reached out to the Janata Dal (Secular) to form the government in Karnataka. “The JD(S) and the Congress will meet the governor this evening to stake claim and form government,” Azad said, according to News18.

At 4.40 pm, the leads showed that the Bharatiya Janata Party had won 83 seats and was leading in 21. The Congress had won 54 seats and was leading in 24. The Janata Dal (Secular) had emerged victorious in 29 constituencies and was leading in eight. A party would need the support of 112 legislators to form the government.

The Congress has reached out to Janata Dal (Secular) chief and former Prime Minister HD Deva Gowda for a post-poll alliance. Senior officials in the party said the Congress was now willing to offer the post of chief minister to Deva Gowda’s son and former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy.

A party official close to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ashok Gehlot have been directed by Congress leader Sonia Gandhi to work out the post-poll alliance “as soon as possible”. The Congress wants to make the move before the BJP reaches out to Janata Dal (Secular).

The senior official said the Congress was willing to offer support from the outside for a Janata Dal (Secular) government. “Actually, there is no other option to keep the BJP away,” the official said.

The senior Congress official said one independent candidate and one Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Paksha candidate, who are currently leading, will support the party. H Nagesh, the independent candidate leading in Mulbagal, has been backed by the Congress given that the party candidate’s nomination was rejected. The candidate of the Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Paksha candidate, R Shankar in Ranebennur, belongs to the Kuruba community, the same as Siddaramaiah’s.

The official said Siddaramaiah has been asked to keep away from the talks with the Janata Dal (Secular) given the poor equation between the Gowda clan and the chief minister. The official said the party is likely to send the letter of support to the Janata Dal (Secular) the moment results are declared for all the seats.