The Karnataka political battle which occupied centrestage in the minds of people across the country for the last many days has ended in the defeat of the BJP which came tantalizingly close to the magic number but finally lost out to the Congress-Janata Dal (S) combine in a manner that caused it much loss of face. With the resignation of BS Yeddyurappa who was chief minister for a mere couple of days, the curtain has come down on a drama that was sordid and bizarre.
In an alliance that was opportunistic to the core, the two parties that had fought each other bitterly in the run-up to the elections–the Congress and the JD-S–joined hands to deny the BJP power. The BJP, on its part, would have done well to acknowledge that the Congress and the JD-S had the numbers on their side from the word ‘go’ but they chose to try and subvert the system to cobble together a majority regardless of means.
If today the BJP has egg on its face it is not just on account of the politics of opportunism played by its rivals but also because it stumbled and fell where it could have enhanced its public support through a show of grace and propriety.
It is a measure of the decadence that characterises politics today that a government that does not reflect the will of the people is all set to be formed. The Congress party that was rejected in a vote in the recent Assembly elections which was patently anti-establishment is back in the saddle through the back door, supporting an outfit that had a mere handful of seats.
While there were precedents for Governor Vajubhai Vala to call the BJP to take the first shot at power, in the Karnataka case the only way the BJP could have cobbled together the required numbers was through defections and abstentions which would have done little credit to the process of building up the numbers. That it has failed is poetic justice, howsoever bizarre the countdown to the pursuit of power by two parties that were poles apart during campaigning.
That the Congress and the JD-S herded their legislators into buses and whisked them away to a destination where they were out of bounds for the BJP to influence was nothing unknown. It has been a standard practice in several similar cases but it is a reprehensible tactic that shows our democracy in poor light.
If the country’s highest court wanted this brazenly-retrograde practice to be eschewed it should have ordered the legislators to be freed from virtual captivity and then given some time after they were freed, to make up their mind. That some of the legislators had reservations about supporting a group with which they were at dagger’s drawn during campaigning could well have been true.
Yet, so insensitive have we as a people become to such subversions of the system and so immune has our legal system become to such unethical conduct that we do little beyond raising our eyebrows and letting such things to be repeated and perpetuated. That such whisked-away people’s representatives are wined and dined lavishly, away from their families with rich rewards being showered on them when they help their unprincipled parties to ride to power is known and accepted by a society that has no concern for means to any end.
A recent survey done by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) found that over 93 per cent of legislators in Karnataka are crorepatis and many have a criminal record. Do we not need an overhaul of our style of democracy to make it more responsive to people’s needs and aspirations?
While there would be euphoria in Opposition circles for some time as a result of the Congress-JD-S victory, the real test—the general elections—are just a year away. The outcome then would be guided by governance by the new government on the ground in Karnataka as elsewhere. One can only pray that the people would take a considered and wise decision when the time comes to elect the Central government.