In Karnataka People’s Political Will & Electoral Verdict Prevail
“I, BHOOKANAKERE SIDDALINGAPPA YEDIYURAPPA, do solemnly swear in the name of God……” when Karnataka BJP strongman and champion of kisans uttered these words and took oath to become chief minister exactly at 6.30 PM on Friday, 26th July in the Glass House at the iconic Raj Bhavan, it was a dream come true for millions of party workers and admirers not only in Karnataka and in other states south of Vindhyas but also throughout the country.
This Lingayat strongman and the man of the masses became Karnataka’s 26th chief minister, fourth time in his political life spanning for over five decades which he commenced as ordinary worker of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh in the remote Shikaripura taluk of Shimoga district in early 60s.
“I will not be vindictive; there is no question of pursuing vendetta politics. Let bygones be bygones. Forget and Forgive is my theme. My mantra will be development. I will do justice to all regions of the state; all sections and strata of society. I will also follow my beloved leader Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji and national President Amit Shah ji in pursuing developmental politics,” Yeddyurappa said, in his first impromptu Press Conference, held at Vidhana Soudha after holding preliminary meeting with the chief secretary Vijay Bhaskar and DG & IGP Neelamani Raju.
Taking over as the chief minister by Yediurappa was a natural and logical culmination of the political turmoil that was happening in Karnataka for the last few weeks starting from the rebellion of Congress and JDS MLAs against the coalition government headed by H.D. Kumaraswamy. The grouse of the Congress MLAs was more against their leader Siddaramaiah, former chief minister and leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) who, according to them, failed in getting them justice from the coalition government.
“I was humiliated more than half a dozen times by the chief minister and his elder brother H.D. Revanna. My repeated complaints with Siddaramaiah did not yielded desired results. For some strange reason, he did not take up our grouse either with the chief minister or with the party high command,” said MTB Nagaraj, Congress MLA from Hoskote. The grouse of other Congress MLAs are not dissimilar. For JDS MLAs to take this extreme step of coming out from their party, the only reason is bleak future for. ‘Nobody except those who belong to Deve Gowda family has future in JDS,” said a JDS MLA, requesting anonymity.
NOW, THE ENTIRE DECCAN PLATEAU IS CONGRESS-MUKT
When the Grand Old Party underwent “electoral massacre” in the 1977 Lok Sabha elections in the aftermath of the 1975-77 emergency, the two Southern States that solidly stood behind the Congress were Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
So much so, the Congress swept the Assembly elections held in 1978 with D. Devaraj Urs becoming the Chief Minister for the second time in Karnataka and Kasu Brahmananda Reddy becoming the chief minister in Andhra Pradesh.
The first time these two states threw up a non-Congress governments was in 1983 with Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao, the Telugu tinsel world’s hero devastating the Congress and his party Telugu Desam coming to power with himself as Chief Minister. In Karnataka the Congress headed by R. Gundu Rao was defeated by the Janata Party headed by Ramakrishna Hegde with BJP emerging as a promising powerful force with 18 seats.
From 1983, both these states – hitherto fortress of the Congress – have been on and off with the Congress. While Congress returned to power in 1989, 1999 and 2013 on its own in Karnataka, AP too saw Congress regimes at various points in time with Y. S.Rajashekara Reddy romping home in early 2000s.
However, with the advent of Narendra Modi in the national scene and the of kind of political churning he has initiated throughout the country, the two states Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh could not remain out of this “new thinking” initiated by Modi.
While BJP won 25 out of 28 Lok Sabha seats plus one Independent backed by the saffron party thus taking its tally to 26 out of 28, the Congress and JDS were reduced to One Each Party. With BJP occupying power in Karnataka, the entire Deccan plateau is now Congress-mukt. The God’s own land, Kerala is with the Leftists while Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry is being ruled by different shades of AIADMK. While Telangana is being ruled by the TRS, Andhra Pradesh is with YSR Congress and Goa is with the BJP.
While the BJP is accused of engineering defection from both the Congress and JDS, the charge that has been stoutly denied by none other than Yeddyurappa and others leaders, the Congress, on the other hand, has not been as much emphatic as it ought to have been, about the charge that it was Siddaramaiah who has master-minded the rebellion of his supporters in order to bring down the coalition regime. The clarification issued by the Kuruba strongman was clerical in nature and too anaemic thus lending credence to the charge that it was he who wanted to see the back of the Kumaraswamy government.
It is not without reason that Siddaramaiah had a candid conversation with Congress President Rahul Gandhi after the party’s devastating defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections during which he is believed to have explained that the coalition arrangement has proved to be disastrous.
Siddaramaiah went on record on his return to Bangalore when he said, “It is true that the logic and purpose of joining hands with the JDS are defeated completely. We need to review our decision to be in league with the JDS. Many of our MLAs are unhappy with the style and nature of functioning of Kumaraswamy government. But it is for the high command to take a call. I have done my duty of explaining the ground reality.”
BELAGAVI – EPICENTRE OF COALITION’S CRASH
The feud between the two Congress MLAs in the Sugarcane-rich Belagavi district – Lakshmi Hebbalkar and Ramesh Jharkiholi – proved to be the beginning of the end of the Congress-JDS coalition in Karnataka.
Backed by the Congress strongman D. K. Shivakumar, Lakshmi Hebbalkar, the first-time MLA, challenged the hitherto unchallenged Ramesh Jharkiholi by getting elected to the Primary Land Development Bank, the cash-rich cooperative institution from where the politicians draw strength.
The Jharkiholis – who are powerful and whose writ runs in most part of Belagavi district – felt threatened with the advent of this “smart” lady. Ramesh Jharkiholi complained to the Congress bigwigs against the “intrusion” of Lakshmi Hebbalkar into their “fiefdom” but the Congress leadership – both in the state as well as at the Centre – remained indifferent to the running feud between the Hebbalkar and Jharkiholis.
Obviously, the Congress high command did not wanted to antagonize D.K. Shivakumar, the Vokkaliga strongman and the trouble-shooter who had his own clout and importance in the Congress party and who backed Lakshmi Hebbalkar to the core. Irked by this indifference of the leadership, Ramesh Jharkiholi started to make noises, which was music to the BJP’s ears but a cacophony to the Congress.
The physical and psychological gap between the Congress and Ramesh Jharkiholi widened as the days went. The BJP cleverly managed to rope in this disgruntled Congress MLA.
The Congress, indeed, felt the tremors of a possible earth-quake but did not take it seriously. More specifically Kuruba strongman Siddaramaiah, whom the Jharkiholis respect, did not do anything meaningful to stop the feud between Lakshmi Hebbalkar and Ramesh Jharkiholi.
And in July, most of the Siddaramaiah’s die-hard followers followed Ramesh Jharkiholi and resigned to the Membership of the Assembly. They flew to Mumbai in a chartered flight that belonged to BJP Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekar, thus sealing the fate of the 14-month old H.D. Kumaraswamy government.
Congress cites this – flight – as proof that BJP was engineering a split in the Grand Old Party but the charge was trashed by Rajeev Chandrashekar when he said, “I give my flight for hire to anybody. Even the Congress MLAs and leaders have availed this facility. The charge that the BJP has engineered the split is a figment of Congress leader’ imagination.”
While feud between two Congress MLAs of Belagav proved to be the epi-centre of the coalition’s crash, it also proved the inability of the Congress to handle the internal disputes among its ego-centric local leaders. Belagavi episode also proved that the hitherto Congress “High Command” had become “Low Command” and then moved on to become “No Command”
Yet another argument being put forth by the Congress leaders as well as JDS supremo H.D. Deve Gowda as well as H. D. Kumaraswamy that it could be Siddaramaiah’s handiwork to bring down the “erected government” is that the Kuruba strongman refused to go to Mumbai and pacify his supporters in order to bring them back to the fold. While D. K. Shivakumar, the Congress leader who has earned the epithet of being a trouble-shooter, visited Mumbai but failed to meet the rebel MLAs,
Kumaraswamy was candid when he said, “If Siddaramaiah goes to Mumbai, then the problem will be solved and the government will survive. I don’t know why he has not ventured into this. But who am I to say anything. I don’t know the thinking of the Congress high command. All that I know is that Rahul Gandhi had promised his party’s unconditional support to the coalition government for five years when my father had conversation with him before the formation of the government.”
However, Congressmen are not ready to believe JDS leaders. “It is foolish and illogical to support Kumaraswamy for five years. The party which has won only 37 seats remains in power for five years? It is nonsensical. Even if our party leaders have given such commitment then it is wrong and bad. We will definitely apprise our high command to review its decision. The government is in the vice-like grip of the JDS. Nothing moves without the knowledge and consent of JDS supremo H. D. Deve Gowda. And there is H.D. Revanna, who interferes in the department’s functioning. We are fed up of this as we are living in a suffocating atmosphere,” said MTB Nagaraj.
MODI-SHAH’S POLITICAL PRUDENCE & BSY’S PATIENCE PAID OFF
“Why should we kill the patient and accord the status of a martyr who, in any case, is going to die a natural death,” a Union Minister had told Uday India Correspondent from Delhi when asked why the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs Committee (CCPA) did not take a call on Karnataka political crisis.
The CCPA had, indeed, discussed the report submitted by Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala on the matter related to trust vote and the Assembly’s failure to adhere to his deadline twice.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who presided over the CCPA and Home Minister Amit Shah, were of the view that Congress was playing a political game in order to emerge as a “martyr” and play a “victim card” by getting its government dismissed but it was decided not “oblige the Congress” and hence dismissal of the government was put on hold.
BJP was finding it difficult to remain reticent to the caustic comments of being a “mute spectator” to the Constitutional Impropriety” being committed by the Congress-JDS in Karnataka but the matured leadership at the Centre decided to exercise restrain and not to get provoked. State BJP President B.S. Yeddyurappa had been advised to be cautious and he himself surprisingly maintained composure.
BJP had always maintained that the “unholy, un-natural and un-ethical” opportunistic and unscrupulous alliance between two partners – who never had “electoral legitimacy” and driven by negativism against BJP as well as lust for power – was bound to fail due to internal contradictions. The saffron party wanted the coalition partners to die a natural death, which, according to the BJP central leadership was “inevitable” and it happened on Tuesday.
As expected Kumaraswamy failed to win the trust-vote and resigned after the counting of votes in the Assembly that gave him 96 votes and BJP 105. Exactly 14 months after it came into existence, this strange-formation headed by a motley crowd of 37 MLAs and supported by electorally-defeated Congress, came crashing down.
Central leadership’s political prudence – guided by the shrewdness of both Narendra Modi and Amit Shah – and surprising patience of BSY paid off. The desperate attempts of the Congress and JDS to attain the hallowed status of martyr never came true.
Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, the chief architect of the “erection” of the coalition regime that suffered from “erectile dysfunction”, former chief minister and Kuruba strongman Siddaramaiah and H.D. Kumaraswamy, who described himself as “the child of circumstances” – all the three were left sulking and left to fend for themselves.
While Siddaramaiah and D. K. Shivakumar continued with their diatribe against “greedy BJP” for destabilising the coalition government, BJP general secretary Shobha Karandlaje shot back by saying, “You could not keep your house in order. Your own MLAs have used choicest abuses against your own party and leadership. Having failed in the political management of your internal party affairs, now you blame the BJP. This is baseless, malicious and escapist move.”
Assembly Speaker Ramesh Kumar, an erudite leader with his feet firmly rooted to the ground and expert in Constitution, Law and intricacies and nuances of parliamentary democracy had a tough time in demonstrating to the world that he is not interested in the partisan politics but was acting in a fair and just means. However, the general impression among the public was that Ramesh Kumar “was trying to save the government” by being needlessly harsh on the rebel MLAs and un-necessarily soft on the coalition. But this “sensitive and sensible” leader was quick to refute the allegations.
“Karnataka will witness rapid progress under the dynamic leadership of BS Yediyurappa”
“The Congress-JDS coalition government was a disaster in terms of governance; meaningless in terms of its form & existence. Its exit is good riddance. People have heaved a sigh of relief with the collapse of the coalition regime and there is a whiff of fresh air following the arrival of the BJP government headed by chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa,” says Shobha Karandlaje, MP and Karnataka BJP general secretary. In her conversation with our Bangalore-based Special Correspondent S. A. Hemanth Kumar, Shobha expressed that Karnataka will witness rapid progress. “Karnataka now has two engines to achieve development. The first engine is Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the second one is B.S. Yeddyurappa,” Shobha said.
How do you see the exit of Congress-JDS coalition government?
A.Good riddance. People have heaved a sigh of relief. This was no government. It was a strange arrangement by a motley crowd of self-serving and selfish people who came together with a mala-fide and negative intentions. There was no positive agenda in the coming together of two defeated parties.
But there is allegation that the BJP has come to power through un-democratic and un-constitutional means…
Such allegations are meaningless, baseless and illogical. The mandate of 2018 was anti-Congress and anti-JDS. So, it was un-democratic on the part of these two parties to come to power. The Congress and JDS MLAs resigned in protest against their respective leaders for their own reasons. BJP stepped in to fill up the gap through constitutional means after the collapse of the government. Remember. H. D. Kumaraswamy moved the Confidence Motion and lost. BJP did not move the no-confidence motion.
What do you think should be the priority of the BJP government in Karnataka?
Yeddyurappa ji is the best person to decide. In my view, providing world-class infrastructure in both rural and urban areas should receive focus and thrust. Now that there is severe drought in some parts of the state, priority must be accorded to drinking water to both people and cattle. Employment generation and looking into the infrastructural needs of Bangalore along with rural areas must be looked into with right earnest. I wish that the pro-people schemes started by Yeddyurappa during his earlier stint as the chief minister must be continued with more vibrancy and if necessary after re-casting the same. Governance must be improved by toning the bureaucratic machinery. I am confident that Yeddyurapp will be able to achieve all these because of his vast knowledge and deep experience in matters related to governance.
“I come from a humble family and grown with certain values. My conscience is clear. I am not here to save a government or send a government. I have to satisfy myself whether the MLAs who have resigned have done so on their will and not due to pressure from outside forces. I need some time to study and seek their opinion. I will also go by the public mood,” he said, in a press conference even as he reiterated that he has utmost respect for the Constitution as well as the Supreme Court.
However, his explanation was neither convincing nor logical about his decision to announce the disqualification of 14 MLAs on a Sunday, the day he said his office will not work when asked why resignation was not accepted. “So, Sunday is a working day if he wants to disqualify the MLAs but Sunday is a holiday, when it comes to accepting the resignation of the MLAs. What is this if it is not selective objectivity and working as per convenience,” said S.Suresh Kumar, erudite spokesperson of the BJP and former law minister, who is also sitting MLA from Rajajinagar.
“BJP’s misadventure will prove costly to the saffron party”
“BJP will regret for having formed the government with the help of Congress and JDS rebels. Those who were not loyal to the party which gave them political baptism cannot remain loyal to the new-found friend. Moreover, the methodology adopted by the BJP to form the government is un-ethical and un-constitutional,” Congress strongman and former minister D. K. Shivakumar said, in an exclusive chat with our Bangalore-based Special Correspondent S. A. Hemanth Kumar.
You are called the trouble-shooter of the Congress party. You have helped the party to tide over very many challenges. What happened this time?
I am an ordinary loyal worker of the Congress party. I rush to meet and face the challenges in the interest of the Congress party. It is the media which has given me the epithet trouble-shooter. I do the task which is in the interest of my party. That’s all. I am yet to find out why I could not bring back my friends who were holed up in Mumbai. There must be a very strong factor or what can be called glue. But let me no go into the intricate details.
But the rebel legislators maintain that they are disillusioned with the party’s style of functioning vis-a-vis HDK government….
I also had certain reservations with the government’s functioning. But did I desert the party? Party is like our mother. Can we get angry with our mother? Those reasons may not be the main factor; probably they could be contributory factors. But the main reason is the attraction and bait shown by the BJP. But I don’t have evidence to prove my charge. It is an open-secret and self-evident.
But it is being said that Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah has a hand in the MLAs rebellion…?
There is no truth in it. The decision to join hands with the JDS was taken by none other than our AICC President Rahul Gandhi ji. It is true that most of us had certain reservations but none of us will defy our high command and go to the extent of bringing down the government. If it would have come to that, we would have told the high command to review its decision. We have freedom to say what we feel in the interest of the party. That Siddaramaiah is responsible for the collapse of the government is all media creation.
But most of the MLAs are close to Siddaramaiah……..??
They are close to me also and nto only to Siddaramaiah. He (Siddaramaiah) had been the chief minister and at present he is the CLP Leader, it is quite natural that he interacts with all the MLAs of our party. There is no such as things as favourites and not favourites.
The political turmoil ended with the disqualification of 17 MLAs – 14 Congress and three JDS – thus bringing down the effective strength of the coalition partners which paved the way the resignation of Kumaraswamy. While the BJP had 105 votes, the coalition regime had 99 votes. Governor Vajubhai Vala who accepted the resignation of Kumaraswamy on Tuesday, asked him to continue till alternate arrangements are made.
Karnataka once again returned to the saffron fold and Congress lost what the truncated power it had in the South of Vindhyas. But it is also true that Yeddyurappa has to marshal all his experience and skill to navigate his government with the pulls and pressures of the rebel Congress and JDS MLAs who are all likely to join the BJP. His first challenge is to ensure that they all get elected to the Assembly, a herculean task indeed. Over and above, he has to provide a governance that would be qualitatively different from the previous two regimes.
Given Yeddyurappa’s passion for pro-people schemes, commitment for good governance, dedication to ideology and devotion for public cause, we can trust this “champion of the Kisans” that he will not let down the people in general and the BJP in particular. As he told this Correspondent in the interview, “I am aware that the paradise of politics is at the feet of the people.”