The opposition BJP in Karnataka, keenly watching the ongoing political drama and unease in the ruling JDS-Congress coalition government, is actively preparing for any eventuality – even of simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly polls under President’s rule.
The coalition government has barely completed a month, but BJP cadres have been asked to be ready for such an eventuality given the open bickering and tussle for spoils of office between the coalition partners.
The government will collapse under the weight of its own contradictions is the prediction of BJP state unit leader Anwar Manappadi. There is no need for the BJP to get into troubled waters, he had said.
Coalition government collapse a possibility
It is a real possibility as there is no government in sight at all. All the time the chief minister and the ministers are either cajoling and pacifying the MLAs or some minister or pressure group.
There are multitude of directions to the bureaucracy, causing confusion and chaos making even routine government work a casualty.
Although the BJP trouble-shooters and former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa’s close aides are in touch with independent MLAs, some BJP leaders have been given the task of attracting lower rung leaders and workers of the Congress and the JD-S into the BJP fold so as to weaken them in their traditional bastions in Southern Karnataka and other pockets. In Bengaluru too, where the BJP could not increase its tally, the BJP has begun identifying potential leaders and making plans to rope them in ahead of the general elections.
Meanwhile, Yeddyurappa’s close aide Shobha Karandlaje asked the cadres to be prepared for simultaneous Assembly polls along with the Lok Sabha general elections as trouble for the Kumaraswamy government was coming from within – former CM S Siddaramaiah.
Unfolding of chaos in the Congress-JDS government
Cut up with the treatment being meted out to him, Siddaramaiah has begun making moves to make things difficult for the Kumaraswamy government. With the result, the Chief Minister had to run to Delhi to the Congress high-command. In fact, he sought permission to present a full budget, against the express wishes of the former Chief Minister, something that had the potential to sharpen and deepen differences between the coalition partners.
Worried that any disturbance could result in loss of a government in which it is a partner, the Congress high command threw its weight behind Kumaraswamy and sent out a signal to Siddaramaiah to behave. But, his closed-door meetings with six MLAs, one minister and one-party MP has the Congress worried.
The Siddu tapes in circulation
In fact, Siddaramaiah has been somewhat candid about the longevity of the Kumaraswamy government in ‘Siddu tapes’ that surfaced recently. The audio clips in circulation have Siddaramaiah purportedly saying that this government would not last after the 2019 elections.
Naturally, this has angered Kumaraswamy and set the alarm bells ringing in AICC headquarters in Delhi. The Congress high-command is rushing AICC party in charge for Karnataka, KC Venugopal, to Bangalore to quell dissidence from building up into something that the BJP can exploit and fell the government during budget session commencing July 2.
Kumaraswamy is to present the state budget for 2018-19 on July 5. But with the numbers game so close, every MLA counts and this is what is giving sleepless nights to the coalition leaders, even as the BJP gleefully watches the fun.
Trouble for the ruling coalition, predictably, comes from within as has been the case since times immemorial.
Siddaramaiah supporter and minister Ramesh Jarkiholi, among the party leaders who called on him at the Nature Cure Centre near Dharmasthala, shot out a warning. “Will the coalition government survive if it neglected Siddaramaiah.” Another supporter maintained that any attempt to neglect or insult Siddaramaiah would not be taken lightly.
The Bitter History
The reasons Siddaramaiah is cut up are simple. Kumaraswamy and his father HD Deve Gowda treat him as their enemy number one, after he ditched the party and joined the Congress and became the chief minister. Now that Gowda’s son is at the helm and the undeclared political enmity between them, Siddaramaiah feels that the father-son duo will do everything to finish him politically.
Why, Siddaramaiah also fears that all the welfare schemes he had started could be axed or starved of funds in the new budget that is to be presented by Kumaraswamy. This was why he was strongly opposed to a fresh budget when he had presented a full budget for the financial year 2018-19 a few months ago.
After the Congress high-command cleared the budget, he went into a prolonged sulk. But after a stern warning from the central leadership, Siddaramaiah is also rushing back to participate in a coordination committee meeting.
Ruling Out any Threat to Coalition
The central party leadership’s representative KC Venugopal is charged with the task of pacifying the former chief minister and ensure that the coalition government works smoothly, without giving any chance for the opposition to exploit.
A veteran of many a political battle, former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (S) patriarch Deve Gowda ruled out any threat to the coalition government. “The budget will be presented on July 5 and passed on July 12,” he told media persons in Delhi where he had gone to attend a parliamentary committee meeting.
But, political analysts view the developments in the Congress with renewed interest as dissidence was only growing.
Interestingly, this is aimed at Deputy Chief Minister G Parameswara, who Congress MLAs feel had left them in the lurch after safeguarding his own interests. But on record Congress MLAs maintained that all was well and there was nothing to worry. This government will complete five years and the BJP will continue to be disappointed.