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How the power game unfolded in Karnataka

By : Lungsanliu Gonmei | Updated on: 29 May 2018, 12:41:57 PM
The power game in Karnataka saw the kingmaker emerge as the king himself

New Delhi:

The political upheaval in Karnataka has subsided and the power shifted from the Bharatiya Janata Party to the Congress-JDS alliance. However, the million-dollar question remains--how long will the Kumaraswamy Government last? The BJP claims that the Congress will soon show its true colours while the latter is confident of a full five-year term.

The power game in Karnataka saw the kingmaker emerge as the king himself. Surprisingly HD Kumaraswamy had predicted it much before the elections results were declared and mind it, this time Kumaraswamy is clear on his terms and conditions--there would be no rotational chief minister.
Kannadigas, true to their words, rejected the incumbent government but at the same time didn’t bestow a clear mandate to any party either. The irony of democracy here is, the party which got the lowest votes and in a way was most rejected by public has formed government in association with an adversary against whom it had campaigned most viciously. But why did the Congress, which had twice the number of MLAs than the Janata Dal-Secular, extended an unconditional support?
Till now, the Congress had been defending BJP volleys of the “Congress Mukt Bharat” - how can a party which had the longest legacy in the Indian politics allow themselves to be admonished by the BJP every other day. It had been practicing a reactive politics rather than proactive one but not this time. The core team in the Congress beforehand analysed the voting pattern of previous elections in Karnataka and anticipated all possible outcomes.

The pre-poll strategy was to immediately render an un-conditional support and the chief minister post to the JDS in case the Congress fails to get a clear majority even if it required to let go off Congressian ego. They were conscious that if they wanted to in power, then the only carrot which can lure the JDS was the CM post. Kumaraswamy, having tested troubled water earlier, would only be too happy to have the chair even if it meant that the remote control would always remain with the Congress.
Since the day election results were announced, it was crystal clear that the BJP with 104 seats could never be successful in forming government unless there were move-ins from the Congress or the JDS and there began the game which comprised of three sets.

The first set was won by the BJP when it successfully convinced the Karnataka Governor (though a BJP man) to stake claim of Government formation under the pretext of being the single largest party and obtained 15 days to prove majority. The second set saw aggressive manoeuvres by the Congress which immediately deployed Singhvi and Sibal to seek shelter of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court, which heard the presentation from each side till early morning, ordered floor test a day later. Now, it is advantage Congress but the challenge of crossover of MLAs still looms. The Congress received a minor setback when the Supreme Court rejected its plea on Pro-tem Speaker.

The final and the most crucial set involved keeping the Congress flock together. Senior Congress minister DK Shivakumar was assigned the task while at the Congress war room in New Delhi, Rahul Gandhi was monitoring all developments. The newly elected MLAs where always kept in motion which ensured easy surveillance and monitoring. The BJP was not sitting idle either. There were rumours of Yeddyurappa trying his best to dent the Congress with money and muscle power but Shivakumar was always one step ahead of the BJP, for instance he was the first to crack the deal with independent MLA Nagesh and had taken him straight to governor house to affirm letter of support. Pratap Gowda Patil and Anand Singh gave some jitters to the Congress when they did not appear in the assembly in the morning but credit goes to Shivakuamar’s people management skills that they eventually ended up in the Congress camp.
The match point of the game was the floor test where some pundits had predicted cross-voting but first few lines of Yeddyurappa speech made it clear that it was not the day for the BJP and bid a teary farewell just before the floor test.
There could be interesting takeaways from this occurrence which may give a preview of Post 2019 election plot.
For the Congress

  • The BJP can be brought down if they use the right strategy at the right time.
  • Experienced hands are still required in the party.
  • Alliance with strongest regional parties would be the best bait.
  • With Karnataka‘s win, Rahul Gandhi’s future plan of action will face little or no questioning.
  • Pressure tactics might not work with Kumaraswamy as the BJP will be only too happy to welcome him.

For the BJP

  • Though Modi remains the most popular leader in the country, that may not be enough to drastically swing votes in BJPs favour in 2019.
  • They need to give another positive shocker to the country like surgical strike, demonetisation or huge relief to the already overburdened tax payers.
  • They need to instil confidence in smaller parties within the alliance.
  • Bihar Model of politics wherein Nitish Kumar finally walked in BJP’s camp could be tested in Karnataka as well.
  • Now that the BJP has ample time, it can convince some sulking MLAs to join them, after all only seven seats are required.

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First Published : 24 May 2018, 10:50:05 AM