Karnataka’s grand political circus
Karnataka : A Divided Mandate Unites Anti-Modi Elements
The electorate of Karnataka handed over a fractured mandate in the electoral battle held in May to the state assembly that saw the coming together of the Congress and JDS which is being rightly described by political analysts as unscrupulous and opportunistic alliance.
This illogical, irrational and unconvincing arrangement has plunged the state to political uncertainty and administrative instability as there is a big question mark on the longevity of the H.D. Kumaraswamy-led dispensation.
Strangely, the swearing-in ceremony of Kumaraswamy as 25th chief minister was also utilised as a platform for all anti-Modi elements to converge and give a call for a united fight against the “communal” BJP in the 2019 elections. Going by the enthusiasm exhibited by the leaders of 14 political parties, it looked like that they were happy more for preventing the BJP from coming to power and less about their fight against the BJP and Modi.
Since 1980, this is the fourth time that the people of Karnataka have given a fractured mandate. And the governments formed thereafter have never completed its term. First it was in 1983 when the Janata Party headed by Ramakrishna Hegde emerged as largest single party with 87 seats.
By entering into this coalition HDD has helped Congress to keep BJP out.But what will HDD get in return? It is being said that in the event of BJP andModi losing the 2019 elections, HDD would like to emerge as the consensuscandidate for the post of PM with the support of the Congress. Remember HDD’s famous phrase in his 1997 Lok Sabha speech before resigning. “I will emerge and return from the ashes like a phoenix” Will his wily move help him to achieve his objective?
He formed the government with the external support of 18 member BJP team.
Later, in 2004, the electorate threw a hung assembly with BJP having 79 seats, Congress having 65 seats and JDS getting 58 seats. Congress joined hands with the JDS and formed the government with Dharam Singh as CM and Siddaramaiah as DyCM. However, Kumaraswamy broke links with the Congress and joined hands with the BJP to form 20:20 coalition government.
That ended in 2007 with Kumaraswamy refusing to handover the baton to Yeddyurappa.
In 2008, the BJP emerged as single largest party with 110 seats but the dispensation saw three chief ministers and eruption of scandals. And the May 2018 hustings has threw up a hung assembly.
Though the BJP emerged as the single largest party with 104 seats, the Congress and the JDS with 78 and 37 seats respectively, outsmarted the saffron party by quickly deciding to enter into a pact where the Congress offered CM post to JDS and declared to form the coalition government. BJP was stung by this development; it indeed took some time for the saffron party leadership to recover.
“This is a government without electoral legitimacy & political credibility”
“This is a government without electoral legitimacy and political credibility and hence its administrative efficacy will always be in doubt. This sordid episode was conceived in malice and executed in deceit. The Congress and JDS have subverted the people’s mandate and have made a mockery of democracy. The BJP will function as a constructive and vigilant opposition”, state BJP President B.S. Yeddyurappa, said in his exclusive chat with Uday India. “This stormy petral of Karnataka politics said that the BJP will wait and watch how the government functions and concentrate on strengthening the organisational network of his party at the grass-root level in order to sweep the Lok Sabhe elections in the first-quarter of 2019. “The Congress will slowly but surely realise the cost they have to pay for its blunder of extending support to JDS. A courageous man dies only once but a coward will die many times. Congress will die a coward’s death every minute of the day due to humiliation that the JDS will heap on the country’s oldest party,” Yeddyurappa said, in an exclusive chat with our Special Correspondent S. A. Hemantha Kumar”.
- What went wrong? You were supposed to come to power with a comfortable majority.
BJP is the clear and real winner. We have achieved our objective of Congress-mukt Karnataka. We defeated Congress decisively and comprehensively. But Congress has played a foul and nasty game of returning to power through the backdoor. As many as 14 ministers lost. The chief minister himself lost in his home constituency of Chamundeshwari by a huge margin. His victory with a margin of 1500 votes is as good as a defeat. It is a pyrrhic victory. Our seats went up by 40 to 104. We lost with a very narrow margin of less than 1000 votes in about 15 constituencies and in 5000 votes in another 20 constituencies. It brings the tally to 140. On the other hand the Congress tally came down from 122 to 78. JDS tally came down from 40 to 37. It is true that we fell short of nine seats but the mandate is for the BJP definitely not for Congress or JDS.
- You are accused of poaching other party MLAs….?
Absolutely rubbish charge. Congress MLA Shivaram Hebbar himself has said that the purported CD released by V. S.Ugrappa is fake. The Congress party’s dirty tricks department has played this nasty game. It is true that we had hoped some of the MLAs from other camps would come with the BJP on the basis of developmental agenda. Had they not been confined to resorts and hotels, perhaps they would have voluntarily voted for the BJP. Their party workers and people of their constituencies would have told whom to vote, going by the direction of the wind that is blowing in the country.
- But the BJP had won 110 seats in 2008. What went wrong now?
Given the large-scale electoral malpractice and gross misuse of official machinery including printing of more than a lakh fake ID cards, the BJP’s performance is really impressive. In 2008, we did not face such a deep and foul means. But this time the Congress was so desperate to cling on to power, it adopted all sorts of foul means to win the elections. In this background, we have done the best.
- How do you call this coalition un-holy. After all, even the BJP had coalition government with the JDS between 2006 and 2007.
There is a qualitative difference between 2006 and 2018. Let me explain. Both BJP and JDS fought against the Congress which was a ruling party. In 2004, BJP got 79 seats and JDS got 58 seats. Naturally and logically the
BJP and JDS ought to have formed the government. But the JDS joined hands with the Congress which was un-natural and illogical. Coalition between two anti-Congress parties is natural and logical. But by joining hands
with the Congress, the JDS has
brought Congress back to power which was rejected by the people.
- What next? When do you think this government will fall?
I would not like to hazard a guess about the longevity of this government. We are not desperate. BJP will wait for the government to collapse under the weight of its own contradictions. Congress will slowly realise the costly price it has to pay for its fool-hardy decision to extend support to JDS. A courageous man will die only once; a coward dies many times. Congress will die a coward’s death every minute of the day as Deve Gowda will slowly but surely extend his tentacles and tighten his grip over the administration. Already, the Congress had to swallow the embarrassment caused by H. D. Kumaraswamy in the full-page advertisement. It had the picture of JP, Sonia and Rahul on one page. Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy may have accepted Sonia and Rahul’s leadership for the sake political convenience but has Congress accepted JP’s leadership? Indira Gandhi jailed JP. Now the same JP is sharing the space with Sonia and Rahul. How can the Congress accept this? This is I call daily humiliation that the Congress has to face.
This is how the Congress and JDS had stumped the BJP three years ago in capturing the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) even though the BJP had emerged as the single largest party with 101 seats out of 198. Both Congress and JDS shared the posts of Mayor and Deputy Mayor leaving the BJP to suck its thumbs.
The challenges are many for the coalition government. Most importantly is is the ego clash of the leaders and fight for plum posts.
As this story was going to print, the suave and sober KPCC President and Deputy Chief Minister Dr G. Parameshwara has gone on record saying that the Congress party has not decided to make Kumaraswamy as chief minister for five years while Kumaraswamy has claimed that he will be the chief minister for the full five-year term.
Vokkaliga strongman and Congress party’s Man Friday D. K. Shivakumar did not attend the Congress Legislature Party meeting on Friday but later relented to attend the trust vote in the assembly. Similarly, the postings of officers of their choice will be a tricky exercise.
More importantly, it would be a tight-rope walk for Kumaraswamy as he has to cater to the needs of his electorate the promises he had made in his manifesto as well as be good to his coalition partner. For instance, the JDS had said in its manifesto that it would scrap the puppet Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) established by Siddaramaiah and instead revive Lok Ayukta which was made a dummy by the previous Congress government. What would Kumaraswamy do and what will be Congress party’s response is a million dollar question.
JP, SONIA AND RAHUL ON ONE PAGE!
If the swearing-in ceremony of H.D. Kumaraswamy saw “14 Prime Ministerial aspirants” coming on one platform and exhibiting bonhomie, the full-page advertisement given by the JDS, however, looked odd. It contained the picture of Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan, leader of the nation-wide anti-emergency movement who had called for the ouster of Smt Indira Gandhi and usher in total revolution.
Of Course, H.D. Deve Gowda and H.D. Kumaraswamy have no hesitation to accept Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi as their leader for the sake of political convenience. But has the Congress accepted JP as its leader? Has the Congress apologised for clamping emergency on the country? Is the Congress comfortable to have JP’s picture along with its leader? No Congress leader was comfortable to answer these questions. “This is the first of many insults and embarrassing situations the Congress party has to face,” B.S. Yeddyurappa quipped.
Why BJP was unable In Getting a clear mandate
“….Yesterday is not ours to
recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or to lose…” – Lyndon B Johnson
“…Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of our own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world…” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
The results are definitely disappointing for the BJP which had grand plans to make Karnataka Congress-mukt and open the doors of South India. While the BJP leadership continues to maintain that they have indeed achieved their objective of making Karnataka free of Congress, they, however, admit that their inability to cross the magic figure is a setback to make further inroads further down South.
“We will introspect as to why we could not achieve our target of 150+ but given the heavy odds stacked against us by the ruling party in terms of large-scale electoral malpractice and misuse of official machinery our performance is really good,” said B.S. Yeddyurappa.
BJP won 104 seats but lost almost 32 seats with in a margin of 5000. There have been instances of the party losing about nine seats within a margin of 1000 votes. Yet, the party insiders attribute the failure to cross the magic number to many factors including contradictions and multiplicity of power centres at various rungs of the organisational machinery which, sometimes, seemed to work at cross-purposes.
Anti incumbency alone will not fetch votes to the Opposition. What is essential to win the elections are two things. One, a charismatic mass leader who can create a tempest against the ruling establishment and two, a strong cadre at the grass-root level to en-cash that storm by converting it to votes and pull in its favour. While Yeddyurappa, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah really created a tempest against the Congress, the cadre at various levels could not en-cash it to its full advantage.
The BJP’s inability to make in-roads in the Vokkaliga dominated Old-Mysore region is also one of the big factors for the party to remain saturated at a number between 100 and 110. The party need to do some social engineering in order to garner support from the Vokkaliga community as well as from the SC (Right) apart from the Kurubas from among the OBCs.
CONGRESS & JDS
“….ambition often puts men doing the meanest offices; so climbing is performed in the same posture with creeping…” – Jonathan Swift
By extending “unconditional” support to JDS in order to keep the BJP out of power, both the Congress and the JDS proved that they are past-masters in the art of con game and the BJP is no match to them. The urgency to put BJP out of power corridor and lust for power are so intense the Congress did not heed to the conscientious advice of the party cadre and leadership not to be fool-hardy in extending support to H.D. Deve Gowda,who is known for having a tight vice-like grip over the administration if given a chance.
In practical terms, both the Congress and the JDS are the losers. While the strength of the Congress came down from 122 to78, the JDS also saw its number dwindling from 40 to 37. Kumaraswamy won from two constituencies and since he has to vacate one place, the number is 37. Yet, the two parties – practically rejected by the people – have entered into an alliance to form a coalition government. There is an element of logic and fact in what the BJP says that this is nothing but subversion of people’s mandate and mockery of democracy. But the BJP does not have a reply as to what could have been the alternative.
It was Deve Gowda – a 24X7 politician with a keen acumen – who persuaded the Congress to extend support to his party and offer the post of chief minister “if the grand old party is keen to keep the BJP out” This was also a move to prevent his son H.D. Kumaraswamy in approaching the BJP or vice-versa. When the post of CM was offered on a platter, the doors for any negotiations between the BJP and HDK were shut.
It was Deve Gowda’s advice to the Congress to submit a list of all supporting MLAs to Raj Bhavan to prevent BJP from poaching. As it is usually done, the Congress and JDS carted their MLAs to resorts and five-star hotels and caged them. While Vokkaliga strongman and Man Friday of the Congress party D.K.Shivakumar efficiently managed to keep the flock together, it is an irony that he is not being rewarded suitably in the coalition government. The reason is obvious – that both HDD and HDK do not want DKS in the reckoning; caste compulsion and regional necessities.
BJP’s defeat in Karnataka: a blessing in disguise for the saffron party?
Several leaders say that the defeat of BJP in Karnataka has guaranteed the return of Narendra Modi-led BJP in 2019 at the Centre.
Logic is working among many BJP functionaries who have reconciled themselves to the defeat of their party in Karnataka. They are using the same logic to console the workers by saying that all for good. Strange it may sound but several leaders as well as workers say that had the BJP won in Karnataka the party would not have won the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. They cite the, rather, dubious, jinx that Karnataka has earned.
Ever since 1980, it has been a phenomenon that the people of Karnataka do not usually and normally elect the party to government that is in power at the Centre.
In 1980, Late R.Gundu Rao became the chief minister when Smt Indira Gandhi was ruling at the Centre. In 1983, however, the Congress lost power and the first-ever non-Congress government – Janata Party – came to power under the chief ministership of Ramakrishna Hegde.
Congress returned to power riding the sympathy wave in 1984-85 and Hegde too returned to power in the March 1985 assembly polls.
In 1989, the Congress under Rajiv Gandhi lost the polls with National Front government assuming office under the Prime Ministership of Vishwanath Prathap Singh. However, the electorate of Karnataka elected Congress with a massive majority of 176 seats under the leadership of Late Veerendra Patil.
Similarly, the Congress returned to power in 1991, again after the tragic assassination of Rajiv Gandhi at Sriperambudur but in 1994, the people of Karnataka elected Janata Dal to power with H.D. Deve Gowda as chief minister.
This strange phenomemon does not stop here. In 1998, NDA came to power at the Centre with A.B.Vajpayee as Prime Minister but the people elected Congress to power in 1999 with S.M.Krishna as chief minister.
In 2004, when Dr Manmohan Singh took over as the Prime Minister, Karnataka saw a Congress-JD coalition government with Dharam Singh as Chief Minister and Siddaramaiah as the deputy chief minister.
In 2008, the BJP came to power with 110 seats under the leadership of B.S. Yeddyurappa but the Congress-led UPA under Dr Manmohan Singh returned to power at the Centre. While the Congress returned to power in 2013 under the chief ministership of Siddaramaiah, the year 2014, however, witnessed the massive victory of the BJP under the Prime Ministership of Narendra Modi.
Going by these hard facts, harsh realities and cold logic, BJP leaders reason, that the defeat of the saffron party in Karnataka has only guaranteed the return of Modi with a massive majority in March-April 2019 hustings.
Similarly, Kumaraswamy had promised that he would probe all the charges of corruption and misuse of official machinery by the previous government. Can he stick to his statement given the fact that he has to run the government with the Congress party?
But what would be extremely difficult is solving the mess created by the Congress government in general and Siddaramaiah in particular about separate minority religious tag to Lingayat community. What would be Kumaraswamy’s stance? This would be prove extremely excruciating given the fact that the relationship of many Lingayat seers with Kumaraswamy is anything but cordial. Already many Lingayat seers are angry against the new chief minister for his outbursts against Sanehalli Lingayat Mutt seer in his maiden press conference.
The coming days may be interesting for the journalists and political analysts but extremely distressing for the people of Karnataka as they are faced with political instability, administrative paralysis and economic uncertainty.
By S. A. Hemantha Kumar from bengaluru
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