Will the glue of power endure Congress-JDS alliance in Karnataka?

21 May 2018, 09:24 PM
Karnataka CM-designate HD Kumaraswamy (Right), DK Shivakumar (Centre), Siddaramaiah (Left) during a media briefing
Karnataka CM-designate HD Kumaraswamy (Right), DK Shivakumar (Centre), Siddaramaiah (Left) during a media briefing

The opportunistic basis on which the H D Kumaraswamy government is all set to be formed on Wednesday and the inglorious record of the chief minister-to-be militate against any surety of political stability in Karnataka but there would be pressing factors at play to compel the coalition partners to stay together at least until after next year’s Lok Sabha elections.

Had the Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular been pre-poll partners, there would have been no cloak and dagger apprehensions on the deal. But given the circumstances of the two parties having been at dagger’s drawn, while it is expediency that has brought the two parties together it will be more of the same in keeping them glued together in the short run.

There would, of course, be the possibility of a few members quitting the Congress and/or the JDS and joining forces with the BJP in a bid to topple the Kumaraswamy government over the next few months, risking disqualification under the anti-defection law, but the three days that the Yeddyurappa government was in office it discredited itself thoroughly by exposing how it sought to virtually ‘buy’ its way to a majority that eluded it.

After that record of unscrupulousness, the BJP would be wary of being caught enticing legislators with rich rewards. They would lie low at least for some time. The BJP would rather go into the general elections as an underdog in Karnataka, with the image of a party that was cheated and wronged by the Congress-JDS perfidy.

It was preposterous of Governor Vajubhai Vala to have first invited the BJP to form the government knowing very well that it was the other side that enjoyed a majority but it was equally wrong for the Supreme Court not to have ordered the Congress and the JD-S to release their legislators from virtual captivity at least a few days before the Assembly session was convened to pass a vote of confidence in Yeddyurappa.

Time and again, this subversion of democracy is happening in place after place by holding legislators hostage in great opulence in plush resorts, but the apex court has nothing to say about this malpractice. 

The manner of campaigning in the recent elections in Karnataka has so brazenly been casteist that the caste divisions that it has created could well lead to favouring of certain castes and discrimination against some other castes.

The Vokkaliga community to which Kumaraswamy belongs is not on the best of terms with the Lingayats who were assiduously wooed by both the Congress and the BJP in the run-up to the elections. That the BJP was seeking to attract Lingayat legislators of the Congress in the build-up to the floor test in the assembly is an open secret.

While caste differences could be a factor in driving a wedge between the Congress and the JD-S, the upcoming government would have a job on its hands in reconciling differences with the Tamil Nadu government on the Cauvery issue. The sharing of waters has been a bone of contention and unless handled sensitively by the Kumaraswamy government it could exacerbate the tension between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

It is too emotive an issue to be brushed aside by Kumaraswamy as an issue between brothers which can be easily sorted out as he recently claimed.

The condition of infrastructure in Bengaluru is another issue on which there is much public anger over the record of the erstwhile Siddaramaiah government. It is linked with the growth of or the lack of it of the software industry.

In various parts of the state, there are many other issues and areas of deficiency which the new government would be called upon to fulfil, not the least of which is the issue of rampant corruption in public departments. 

The Congress and the JD-S think differently on most issues and both have their distinct vote banks to cater to. Consequently, it would be no mean task for them to adhere to a common minimum programme. 

Yet, at least for the time being the glue of power would keep the new allies together.

First Published: Monday, May 21, 2018 01:49 PM
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