Will the mar­riage of con­ve­nience last in Kar­nataka af­ter the re­bel­lion

Alive - - Contents - — K.V. Venu­gopal

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).

Dis­ap­pointed sup­port­ers

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.

Cor­rup­tion charges

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.

BJP with Yed­dyu­rappa as the CM face fell short of the ma­jor­tiy level in the state as­sem­bly of Kar­nataka.

The Kar­nataka Governer's le­niency to­wards Yed­dyu­rappa was the big­gest folly for the BJP in the state.

The new HD Ku­maraswamy gov­ern­ment in Kar­nataka.

Congress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi and UPA chair­per­son So­nia Gandhi meet Kar­nataka CM-des­ig­nate HD Ku­maraswamy.

Kar­nataka Chief Min­is­ter H.D. Ku­maraswamy meets PM Naren­dra Modi.

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