Will the marriage of convenience last in Karnataka after the rebellion
When the Karnataka Chief
Minister and the Janata Dal (Secular) president H D Kumaraswamy said a few days after taking the mantle on his shoulder that he is obligated to his alliance partner Congress, more than of the people of the State, it became crystalclear that the writing is on the wall for the present government. When the Congress supremo and the United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, offered an unconditional support to the JD(S) president to rule the destiny of Karnataka, till the completion of his present term, she made it known,
without mincing words, that her party will hold the maximum number of portfolios, although some coveted berths like Home, Finance and Energy, would be entrusted with the JD(S).
The virtual free-for-all started when some MLAs belonging to the Congress and JD(S) started claiming berths, and the virtual rebellion is underway, especially after the
Congress minister and dissident MLA M.B. Patil’s insistence on the deputy chief minister’s post. Though the Congress president Rahul Gandhi pacified him with an assurance of a ministerial berth in the next cabinet expansion, the disappointed supporters of both the parties continued to protest on streets with redoubled vigour. Incidentally, Patil’s rebellion gathered strength, as about 18 to 20 MLAs are ready to quit the Congress, as the BJP state-president and the former chief minister, B.S. Yeddyurappa has already given a greensignal to the dissident
MLAs from other parties that they are welcome to join his party.
Interestingly, the JD(S) in Karnataka, after joining hands with the Congress to form the Government, declined to contest the RR Nagar election (as the poll was countermanded during the assembly election following the death of the candidate) at Bangaluru jointly. The JD(S) Patriarch Deve Gowda’s eagerness to portray his party’s strength ahead of the Congress was amply evident, when the octogenarian made a cryptic comment that cooperation between the two parties are confined only at the legislature-level and not outside its boundary, he said. Being a shrewd politician, the former Prime Minister wanted to have the best of both the summer and winter for his son Kumaraswamy and his party. Of course, it did not take much time for the people to realise his opportunistic politics and greed. With the result, the JD(S) emerged a poor third, after the winner Congress and runner-up BJP. Gowda had already paved way for endangering the present coalition, and if such a situation continues, both the coalition partners have only to count their days in the government. Moreover, the shattering defeat at RR Nagar had weakened the bargaining power of the JD(S) and, it is quite natural for the Congress to take advantage of Kumaraswamy’s pathetic plight.
The Karnataka Chief Minister’s utterances that the circumstances forced him to lead the State considerably reflect that he is more anxious to save his chair than of problem confronting the people of Karnataka. For instance, when he was reminded of his party’s poll promise to the people that the farmers’ loan waiver will be given priority after the formation of his government, he hastened to inform candidly that the situation warranted him to consult his alliance partner (Congress) before taking any decision. His statement also implied that JD(S) being a minority government cannot take any decision on its own. It is being apparent that administration decisions on burning issues like price rice, unemployment,
The virtual warfare between the Congress and JD(S) continued unabashedly when the JD(S) president said after the poll campaign that his party would not mind extending its support to the Congress, if no party gets an absolute majority, as long as the Congress keeps his bête-noire and the former chief minister Siddaramaiah out of contention.The enmity between Siddaramaiah and Kumaraswamy reached such a stage, where the former even proposed a Dalit candidate to rule the destiny of Karnataka.
healthcare, education and economic reform would have to wait for some time, as both the partners have to evolve a consensus on such issues.
The virtual warfare between the Congress and JD(S) continued unabashedly when the
JD(S) president and the present state chief minister said after the poll campaign that his party would not mind extending its support to the Congress, if no party gets an absolute majority, as long as the Congress keeps his bête-noire and the former chief minister Siddaramaiah out of contention. The enmity between Siddaramaiah and Kumaraswamy reached such a stage, where the former even proposed a Dalit candidate to rule the destiny of Karnataka, to prevent the entry of his deadly-foe Kumaraswamy, who belonged to the Vokaliga community. It may be recalled that the former Karnataka Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah, who was with the JD(S) earlier, walked out of the coalition government with some of his party supporters in
2005, as he was furious over Deve Gowda’s decision to nominate his son Kumaraswamy to rule the state, contrary to his earlier promise to make him the Chief Minister. Left with no other alternative, the JD(S) formed the government in coalition with the BJP, but, that too failed in 2007, when Kumaraswamy withdrew his party’s support to the one-week old Yeddyurappa government, by citing the BJP’s lack of secular credentials. It may be noted that as per the earlier agreement, both the parties were destined to rule Karnataka alternatively after every two years. When the experiment collapsed, it provided an opportunity for the BJP to make a claim that the party had become the victim at the hands of the treacherous role played by the JD(S). With the sympathy starts pouring in, it was not difficult for the BJP to win the 2008 Assembly elections hands down.
Unity of opposition
Sources in the camps of the Congress and JD(S) aver that, since many leaders from both the parties are from the erstwhile Janata Parivar, the bonhomie is amply evident. Moreover, they are aware that the Opposition unity at the national level would depend on keeping their flock together, at least till the next general elections at the regional level. They were also surprised to note that almost all the opposition leaders had visited the
swearing-in-ceremony of Kumaraswamy and other cabinet ministers at Bangaluru. he realisation has dawned on the Congress-JD(S) combine, that, until and unless they remained together and function in a cohesive manner, the BJP would cash-in on the opportunistic political alliances and it will be a herculean task for them to convince the people next-time around in a finetuned manner.
Not the icing on the cake
The Congress and JD(S) with 79 and 38 MLAs respectively, have succeeded now in fending off the challenge, but with a 104strong opposition led by the BJP, the months leading to the Lok Sabha elections, next year, would not be an icing on the cake for Kumaraswamy and his team in Karnataka. The new government is also aware that it is only the arithmetic that matters and the BJP will leave no stone unturned to engineer defections of eight MLAs it needed from the Congress and JD(S) to form the government during the course of time. However, the ruling parties in Karnataka are confident that they can also indulge in machinations to match the might of its opponent. Bearing this in mind, Kumaraswamy said in an exclusive interview to leading English daily that both the Congress and JD(S) will observe the situation and will not take any drastic decision that upset the applecart of the alliance partners, at least till the next general elections. Fair enough! The Opposition Front also has to ensure that it has not been stitched together only to oppose the BJP tooth and nail.
Before the formation of the government in Karnataka, Kumaraswamy alleged that some JD(S) MLAs were lured with an attractive offer of Rs 100 crore per head and attractive portfolios by the BJP. To prevent such untoward occurrences, both the Congress and JD(S) shielded their MLAs in Resorts at Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
Right from 2004, the voters of Karnataka have not elected any party with absolute majority. Even in 2013, though Congress claimed an absolute majority, the political experts say that had the BJP votes not been split among the Karnataka Janata Party led by its dissident leader and the former state chief minister Yeddyurappa and a party led by another dissident Sriramulu, the Congress would not have won with a massive mandate, compared to the BJP and JD(S). The voters in the State are polarised on caste-factor. For instance, in Old Mysore, the JD(S) is confident of getting its Vokalinga votes, which comprise eleven per cent in the State. Likewise, the BJP is not in a position to antagonise Yeddyurappa, as 17 per cent of people in Karnataka, are from Linkayat community, to which the septuagenarian
The new government is also aware that it is only the arithmetic that matters and the BJP will leave no stone unturned to engineer defections of eight MLAs it needed from the Congress and JD(S) to form the government during the course of time. However, the ruling parties in Karnataka are confident that they can also indulge in machinations to match the might of its opponent.
BJP leader belongs to. The former chief minister Siddaramaiah belongs to Kruba community that forms a reasonable percentage after the Linkayat and Vokaligas. The former Pradesh Congress Committee president G. Parameshwar, has been made the deputy chief minister now, as he belongs to the Dalit community. If the North Karnataka voters exercised their franchise in favour of the Congress, the border-areas ranging from Karnataka-Hyderabad preferred the BJP. The BJP is however, disappointed that a large number of voters, especially, the people belonging to the upper castes in Bangaluru city and adjoining areas did not vote in the recent Assembly election. According to some insiders in the party, these traditional voters could have tilted the scale in favour of the BJP getting the simple majority that it needed to form the government.
The sources in the political corridor inform that had the BJP, after winning the 2008 assembly elections with 110 MLAs, had not compromised for the sake of power to accommodate mining barons Reddy brothers and a few other corrupt MLAs from other parties in their rank to gain a simple majority of 113 MLAs, the party led by Yeddyurappa, would not have been riding on rampant corruption charges, similar to the Congress and JD(S) now. The present political climate in Karnataka reminds the connoisseurs of the in-famous statement, “Aya Ram, Gaya Ram” made by the former
Defence Minister, Y.B. Chavan, after a large number of MLAs in Haryana, started changing their political parties like nine-pins, and especially after an MLA named, Gaya Lal’ changed his party three times in a day in 1960s and 1970s.
The ruling partners in Karnataka realises that it is their duty to avert fishing in troubled waters, as long as the marriage of convenience sails smoothly. They are also aware that the Opposition unity at the national-level and that too, before the coming Lok Sabha elections, depends on their ability to shun aside the acrimony and powertussle that is bound to creep-in during the course of time. After all, the e entire country is watching them with bated-breath. Whether they like it or lump it, the birds of a feather are forced to flock together. Or else the powerful opposition party in Karnataka, is waiting in the wings to grab the opportunity with folded hands to prove the electorate in the words of the BJP national president Amit Shah, that, “if it was Indira Gandhi versus Opposition earlier, it is going to be Narendra Modi versus Opposition now”. It is better late than never for the ruling parties at Karnataka to realise the daunting and realistic task ahead of them.
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