Even before the announcement of 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka was facing an internal turmoil amid allegations of poaching by the BJP. Fear gripped the Congress camp after four of its MLAs headed to Mumbai to meet a BJP leader and didn’t return. The party called an emergency meeting and issued a whip, asking all its legislators to be present. However, the four MLAs skipped the meeting called to rally the flock together.
The Congress alleged that the BJP was trying to break their MLAs and offering them Rs 100 crore as part of its “Operation Kamala”. The Congress party shifted their MLAs, except the missing four, to the Eagleton resort in the outskirts of Bengaluru.
Not just that, the relationship between the ruling coalition partners – the JD(S) and the Congress – are also patchy. Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy even threatened to quit. He was upset with Congress MLA’s accusing him of poor governance while praising his predecessor Siddaramaiah.
The Congress-JD(S) had formed a coalition government after BJP’s Yeddyurappa failed to prove majority in the Legislative Assembly. BJP had emerged single largest party in the Assembly elections but fall short of the majority.
Now after the BJP’s landslide victory in the state and across the country, the stability of Karnataka government is again being questioned. Just two days before the announcement of Lok Sabha election results, Karnataka minister and senior Congress leader Roshan Baig revolted against the party. Baig said held state Congress president Gundu Rao, Siddaramaiah responsible for the party’s situation in the state. He called KC Venugopal a buffoon and felt sorry for Congress chief Rahul Gandhi for being surrounded by him.
The remarks of Biag, who holds a ministry, raised concerns in the Congress camp. A person who was given a ministry is not happy with the party. He even asked Muslims not be loyal to one party and compromise with the BJP if the saffron party comes to power. Baig was issued a show cause notice for maligning the image of three senior party leaders. There are speculations that he is very likely to switch his loyalty to the BJP.
The major threat is in the Congress camp as the JD(S) MLAs are more loyal to former prime minister HD Deve Gowda. “I assure you - all my MLAs are Vishwamitra, who would not fall for the charms of celestial nymph. The celestial nymph is the BJP. The saffron party has failed in their attempts to destabilise the government on many occasions,” Karnataka JDS president AH Vishwanath said in response to a question that whether the JD(S)-Congress coalition will complete its full five-year term.
The number game
In the 225-member (224 elected and one nominated) Karnataka Legislative Assembly, the Congress and JD(S) coalition has 117 MLAs. The Congress has 79 MLAs while the JD(S) has 37 members. They are also supported by the BSP which has one legislator in the Assembly.
The BJP is the single largest party with 105 MLAs. The BJP also has the support of one independent and one KPJP MLA. Which takes its total tally to 107- six short of the majority mark which is 113. In the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, the saffron party swept the state by winning 24 of the 28 seats. Another was bagged by an independent supported by the BJP. The rulling COngress and the JD(S) could manage to win only one seat each.
Although, the Congress-JD(S) government in the state is stable as of now, but given the vulnerability of four Congress MLAs, who went to Mumbai to meet a BJP leader and the rebellion by another, fears of being toppled still remains strong and the results of Lok Sabha elections could prove a death blow to the Congress in Karnataka.