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POWER PLAY IN KARNATAKA

Six months ago, the Congress and the JDS came from out of nowhere and stole victory from the jaws of defeat in Karnataka and formed a post-poll alliance government. Its days seem numbered, as several legislators from the ruling side are willing to play the Opposition BJP’s game. Given the context, the fall of the HD Kumaraswamy government is simply a matter of time. For, the two ruling parties put together enjoyed a majority of just three seats in a house of 224.

It’s a surprise that the alliance government survived for as long. Two reasons are obvious. One, the Congress didn’t want to send any wrong signals to the people before the crucial 2019 Lok Sabha hustings that alliance governments do not have a long life – something that had been proven in New Delhi time and again, starting with the 1977 Morarji Desai-led Janata Party government. Congress on its own can no more gather the seat strength to form a national government and alliance politics is the only way forward, as it did in the past two UPA periods as well. The BJP with Narendra Modi at its head effected a turnaround in 2014 and gained a majority for the BJP on its own in the Lok Sabha, though the NDA arrangement was carried forward. Even today, after nearly five years, the BJP retains much of this strength though anti-incumbency trends are already evident against it.

Another reason for the Congress-JDS alliance to carry on this far is the strong position of the BJP in the assembly, it having won the largest number of seats, at 105, and having had the first right to form a government post-poll. The frenzy with which the Congress and the JDS formed a post-poll tie-up robbed the BJP of a chance to win power. It was clear to all that the saffron party was thereafter waiting in the wings for the right moment to pull the government down.

Buying a few legislators is the easiest thing for the BJP to do, considering the political clout and money power it commands today. What came as additional help was a ministry expansion in which several hopefuls from the Congress could not be accommodated. Add to this the constant cribbing by Kumaraswamy that the Congress was maltreating him – seeing him as a clerk and ordering around. The fact remains that an unholy alliance had put him in the CM post. Even in the post-poll tie-up, the Congress had deserved that post. And, he has made a laughing stock of himself.

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