Many tears will not be shed over fall of the Karnataka Government headed by H D Kumaraswamy. Right from the beginning, the coalition arrangement between the JD(S) and the Congress was on shaky ground. Congress which had 65 seats in the House of 225 supported Kumaraswamy whose party the JD(S) had won only 34 seats. The coalition managed to form the government with the support of some independents and the lone member of the BSP. The move was to stop BJP from forming a government which had won 105, the single largest party in the state assembly.
The natural course of action on part of the Opposition parties in Karnataka should have been to let Congress head the government. However, overambitious Kumaraswamy supported by his father H D Devegowda bargained with Congress to claim Chief Minister’s chair. If you recall the event preceding formation of the government, the Congress was first to announce that it was ready to support JD(S) to head the government. This unconditional offer was not ‘unconditional; in the real sense of the term. There was the first sign of differences over the allocation of portfolios.
Beside post of Deputy Chief Minister, the Congress was asking for plum portfolios. The bickering was in the open and at one time it looked that the coalition will break, but it did not. Kumaraswamy managed affairs with the help of D K Shivkumar, the troubleshooter of Congress. When things started settling down, Siddaramaiah, former Congress chief minister who had lost power, began his maneuvers to create a situation that might help him to become Chief Minister again albeit with the help of the JD(S). He was working overtime to damage the coalition arrangement. The Central leadership of the Congress was too weak to tame Siddaramaiah. The result was differences and bickering that came out in the open from within the coalition government damaged the image of the government.
In any way, Kumaraswamy proved to be a non-performer who failed to govern the state properly. One wonders what made him function from a five-star hotel in Bengaluru when there was built up Chief Minster’s secretariat in the Vidhana Soudha. Kumaraswamy also had office space in his official residence. However, he worked from a hotel for many months.
Despite Yeddyurappa’s move to destabilise the Kumarswamy government, the central leadership of the BJP was not in favour of pulling down the government. When the government fell on July 22, it fell under its own contradictions. There was a lot of resentment amongst not only the Congress MLAs but also amongst Members of the JD(S) in the state assembly who were disenchanted with the style of working of Kumaraswamy. On more than one occasion, Kumaraswamy and H D Devegowda threatened to end the coalition arrangement with the Congress. It was the sustained effort of D K Shivkumar that saved the government.
The Congress leaders have accused the BJP of ‘horsetrading’ to bring down the government. One may ask the Congress leaders including Rahul Gandhi how anyone can ‘trade-in horses when horses are not available in the stable for trading’. The Congress and the JD(S) should better ask their MLAs who flew out of Bengaluru to ‘relax’ in five-star comforts in Mumbai what made them escape from the House on trial of strength.
There is a cry from the Opposition to further amend the Anti-Defection law. However, the milestone of defection politics was laid by Bhajan Lal, former Haryana Chief Minister. The master of power politics Bhajan Lal had said after defecting to Congress, “In politics, one should either take sanyas or take the right decision at the right moment.”
When Indira Gandhi returned to power at the Centre in 1980, Bhajan Lal was Janata Party Chief Minister in Haryana. One day he went to 12 Willington Crescent Road (Now Mother Teresa Road) to meet the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He was accompanied by 35 of the 50 MLAs of Janata Party. Bhajan Lal offered his allegiance to Indira Gandhi and defected unblock to Congress (I). Indira Gandhi was too happy to expand her centre of power. The catchphrase “Aya Ram Gaya Ram” became a vogue in political parlance.
Kumaraswamy during his tenure as chief minister was accused of some corruption and irregularities by the BJP. The land case was one though he was acquitted of charges later. In 2011 he made a statement that revealed the real side of politics. He had said, “It is impossible to practice politics without corruption.”
(The writer is a Member of Rajya Sabha)
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