POLITICAL CIRCUS IN KARNATAKA

The obituary of the 13-month-old JDS-Congress government in Karnataka has been written. The BJP is itching to form a new government, it being the largest party in the assembly and having the muscle-power to take matters forward with able backing from Delhi. At ground level, nothing seemed to work in favour of the Congress, and the BJP quietly played its games. While the BJP is pleased to have the last laugh in Karnataka, the price it pays for the game of defections and the encouragement it gives to such a political culture are matters of concern vis-a-vis the cause of a healthy democracy.

On the other hand, chief minister HD Kumaraswamy deserved no sympathy. He went in for an over-kill, bargained hard and got the CM post even when his JDS got only 37 seats in a house of 224, against 80 for the Congress and 104 for the BJP in the May 2018 assembly polls. The Congress let go of the CM post only to placate the JDS leader and to ensure the BJP did not grab power. Notably, also, the JDS-Congress alliance was an unprincipled, opportunistic tie-up effected after the elections even though the two parties had fought against each other. Once in power, the two parties pulled the government in different directions. A weakling, Kumaraswamy was often on the verge of tears. Amid all these, the corruption graph in governmental deals saw a huge surge.

Matters came to a head only after the BJP’s roller coaster victory in the Lok Sabha polls. With the Congress and the JDS getting only one seat each, the BJP swept the polls with 25 seats. This, alongside the drubbing the Congress got at the national level too, fanned dissidence in Karnataka. The drama being enacted in the past few weeks had shades of horse-trading, with dissident Congress legislators being airlifted in a BJP leader’s plane to Mumbai for safe-keeping. The matter reached the Supreme Court after the Assembly Speaker rejected the resignation letters of dissidents from the assembly.

The assembly was convened for Thursday to vote a trust motion, even as there was little hope for survival of this government. BJP leader and former CM BS Yeddyurappa is confident of forming an alternative ministry. While such change of governments through unfair means cannot be appreciated, chances are that a BJP government will be able to carry on in a more stable manner. Given the hopeless state of the Congress now, more MLAs are bound to join the BJP in the state.

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