Berth pangs of ministerial aspirants from the Janata Dal-Secular and more important, the Congress, have thrown in an element of built-in instability into the HD Kumaraswamy government to be sworn in on Wednesday on the footsteps of then imposing and majestic Karnataka Vidhan Soudha at 4.30 pm.
With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) still smarting under the “defeat” inflicted by a determined Congress and the JD-S that frustrated all attempts by the BJP to shore up its numbers, the BJP is watching the developing political situation and the plight of the Congress leadership in trying to assuage the sentiments and fulfil the aspirations of different groupings.
With the tallest Lingayat leader, BS Yeddyurappa in its ranks, the BJP is banking on the Lingayat MLAs of the Congress to put pressure on the leadership of the Congress and make impossible demands, so that the party cracked.
On Wednesday, Kumaraswamy is expected to be sworn in with a small cabinet, so that hope of ministerial positions keeps the MLAs under check till after the trust vote is successfully negotiated in the assembly on Thursday. As per the power sharing formula being worked out by the leaders of the JD-S and Karnataka Congress leaders, the Speaker’s post will go to the Congress.
The name of the Congress man of the moment, DK Shivakumar, is being spoken about in Congress circles for the post which will be the most crucial in running the house with the numbers in such a precarious position for the ruling as well as the opposition party. Since the role of the Speaker is going to be very crucial, the Congress which is backing the smaller JD-S for the CM post insisted that it got the speaker’s post.
There is, however, no clarity on whether the JD-S has agreed to hand over plus portfolios of revenue, finance and home that the Congress was demanding. As if this power-sharing problem was not enough, it is now besieged with demands from the minority community MLAs, who are now seeking respectable accommodation.
What the minority community leaders are demanding is the post of the deputy chief minister for the senior most Muslim MLA like Roshan Baig. “There are only seven Muslim MLAs who have won from the Congress ticket and none from the JD(D). But since the minority community has been supporting the Congress for a long time and has never got its due rewards, this time around the issue must be addressed with respectable post for our member,” said Abdul Rashid, a minority community leader.
“We work day and night and fight to ensure the victory of secular forces but are ignored when it came to giving power to the community,” Rashid said.
The pulls and pressures from different MLAs and groupings, working on both the JD-S and the Congress, are keeping the leaders also guessing about the trust vote that the Kumaraswamy government will be taking in the assembly on Thursday, as announced.
Then there are MLAs belonging to the Veerashaiva Lingayat sect, whose youthful leader Mahesh Kumar is trying to break the Lingayat MLAs of the Congress and JD-S to back Yeddyurappa and not the Congress that had tried to divide the Lingayat community and weakened it considerably.
The Kumaraswamy government has the support of 117 MLAs and on paper is well ahead of the halfway mark of 112 in a 221-member house. Three seats are vacant. But, neither the Congress nor the JD-S are sure of their own MLAs and for this reason they are still under lock and key of their minders.
On Tuesday, Congress leader Shivakumar was having a one-on-one meeting with all the party MLAs at the Hilton hotel to read their mind as also to impress upon them the need for unity and trust at this juncture when the big picture idea was to stop the communal forces, a senior Congress MLA said.
But political analysts see an unstable arrangement between the Congress and the JD-S though former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, his son and CM-elect Kumaraswamy, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi have declared that the alliance would continue into the general elections and after that as well. Although the new friendship appears to last, the duo must guard against a BJP that will be waiting for even a small opportunity to unseat the combine from power.
The resolve of the leadership of the two parties, if not shared by its MLAs, can put the government in danger and can destroy the best laid plans of the two parties for the 2019 general elections to the Lok Sabha.