Karnataka turmoil: two trust votes in 10 days

Karnataka political crisis: How it took root and grew

Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy during the trust vote on his government in the Assembly on July 23, 2019. Photo: ANI

Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy during the trust vote on his government in the Assembly on July 23, 2019. Photo: ANI  

Cong.-JD(S) coalition government succumbs to factional pulls and political opportunism

Karnataka politics is once again on the boil with the coalition experiment, comprising the Congress and the JD(S), losing power once again, for the second time in in two decades.

In case the BJP comes to power here, then it will be for the first time that the saffron party rules both at the Centre and in Karnataka.

It was exactly 14 months ago (May 23, 2018), leaders of opposition parties from across the country huddled together on a platform in front of the Vidhana Soudha, in a show of solidarity, to mark the swearing-in of the new coalition government. H.D. Kumaraswamy of the JD(S) and G. Parameshwara of the Congress was sworn in as the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister, respectively.

“Coalition dharma” is a term often used by the ruling coalition, but is rarely practised. While stresses and tensions between alliance partners are only to be expected, the Congress-JD(S) second coalition succumbed to factional pulls and political opportunism rather than departure from any lofty set of founding principles. The BJP constantly fished in troubled waters and spared no trick in the book to lure the disgruntled elements.

BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in the Karnataka Assembly B.S. Yeddyurappa, and other BJP MLAs flash the victory sign after the trust vote, on Tuesday, July 23, 2019

BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in the Karnataka Assembly B.S. Yeddyurappa, and other BJP MLAs flash the victory sign after the trust vote, on Tuesday, July 23, 2019   | Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

 

After initial hiccups, the alliance was moving steadily till the byelections to three Lok Sabha and two Assembly constituencies in October-November. Matters reached a head after the first major Cabinet reshuffle in December 2018 and when the coalition appeared shaky after four Congress MLAs abstained from the CLP meeting in January 2019. Of the four MLAs, Umesh Jadhav eventually quit and won the 2019 election on BJP ticket.

Again, the relations between partners were under control till announcement of the general elections in March. The rift intensified when disagreement surfaced over seat-sharing. It aggravated after a devastating defeat of the alliance, particularly H.D. Deve Gowda in Tumakuru and K. Nikhil in Mandya, both JD(S). Differences took a serious turn when Mr. Deve Gowda, apparently, complained to Rahul Gandhi, blaming Mr. Siddaramaiah for the defeat.

Largely ineffective

Though a coordination committee headed by Mr. Siddaramaiah met a few times to evolve consensus on issues grappling the coalition, they remained largely ineffective in controlling the alleged interference of PWD Minister H.D. Revanna in the administration of other departments, say Congress legislators. Differences between H. Vishwanath and Mr. Siddaramaiah on constitution of the coordination panel and ego clashes between leaders were among the factors that further dented the government’s image.

The differences did not end there. The crack between factions within the Congress and legislators intensified after the Chief Minister expanded his Cabinet. By vetoing the Chief Minister’s decision to reshuffle the Cabinet by Mr. Siddaramaiah, Mr. Kumaraswamy inducted two Independents into his ministry, only for them to quit a few weeks later. The induction of the Independents did not go well in the alliance and this caused resentment not only among legislators aspiring to become Ministers but also among many senior MLAs, including Ramalinga Reddy.

The political crisis showed no signs of abating after a dozen of MLAs resigned on July 6, taking the total number of resignations to 15. They were carted away to Mumbai and put up in a hotel, apparently by the BJP, though the party denied it. The Supreme Court interim ruling not compelling resigned MLAs to attend the Assembly worsened the situation and this forced the Chief Minister to move the confidence motion only to end his 14-month rule.

Now, with the support of the disgruntled legislators, it will be interesting to see how the BJP will survive.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 9:40:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/how-the-political-crisis-took-root-and-grew/article28692530.ece

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