As constituencies celebrated their candidates’ victories with elaborate parades through the roads and sloganeering that resounded through the cities’ daily activities, lazy ones such as myself chose to stay at home glued to the television screen furiously clicking the reload button on the laptop for news. Will HD Kumaraswamy be King or Kingmaker, was the million dollar question following the developments that saw the Congress offer unconditional support to the JDS in desperate hopes of staying in power. Even with the final rounds of counting were still underway, the Congress State Party President Dr. G Parameshwar wrote to the Governor seeking appointment for what was most likely an attempt to lay first claim to the Karnataka throne.
The day of counting had the whole country interested as Karnataka played battlefield to Congress’ last big fort in the country and the BJP’s relentless tirade against the incumbent government. While everyone expected a fractured verdict, no one could foresee the presumed Kingmaker find himself in a situation where despite having the lowest number of lawmakers among the 3, offered the seat of Chief Minister unconditionally. All this comes after a month long tirade against each other where the Congress continuously bashed the JDS calling it a non-player and BJP’s B Team. And as fate would have it, most of the JDS MLAs come from the Old Mysore region, historically a Congress Stronghold and a Vokkaliga dominant region. Insults to Vokkaliga leader and former PM HD Devegowda angered the community which worked against the Congress. Interest peaked when the Congress offered support to a party that wrestled most of its seats from the Congress itself.
The BJP doesn’t seem to want to repeat the mistake of the Bangalore Muncipal Corporation Polls where despite having the largest number of Corporators on its side, lost out to a Congress-JDS alliance with the Mayor and Deputy Mayor positions being shared between the them.
And since this is politics where moral high ground takes a back seat to all else, the JDS accepted taking their total well above the magic number. Interesting developments took place throughout the day and the next with political analysts debating hard on what would happen. While there was no word from BJP Supremos, reports surfaced of some Central Leaders flying down to Karnataka to discuss the next course of action. BS Yeddyurappa was quick to stake claim to the CM chair allegedly even consulting an astrologer to fix a muhurtam for his swearing in.
What is interesting is, despite the head honchos of the two parties nicing it out in a bid to form government, the real power lies in the hands of the MLAs. In a day where party switching is as common as changing your profile picture on facebook, and the concept of political ideology is all but dead, you never know who will end up in what party when all is said and done. The BJP is no doubt relying on the dissension caused by this alliance in the MLA ranks some of who might be dead against allying with the other party. These MLAs will be the most important players come tomorrow.
Reports suggesting the BJP was considering ‘Operation Kamala’ began to surface later in the day as numbers began to stagnate. No word from the BJP came on how they would prove the numbers in the House though, even while stating with certainty that they would form the government. The Governor’s discretionary powers play an important role in situations such as this where he has the option to invite the single largest party to form government tasking them with proving their majority in the first sitting of the house or accepting the coalition’s proposal to form a government as there is no party with a simple majority. The coalition however has to prove that it can form a stable government with lawmakers from either party functioning amicably. How the Governor chooses to define stability, is again discretionary.
The Congress allegedly packed all their lawmakers into a luxury bus and booked a resort for them in Bangalore to rush to the Rajbhavan at the first chance they get. This was admist accusations from the coaltion that the BJP had reached out to JDS MLAs to switch sides with a ‘100 Crore’ offer. Natuarally, the BJP denied this. An Independent MLA who sided with the BJP this morning changed stance allying himself with the Congress-JDS combine as the day progressed. Another report stated that the Bellary MLA who had won on a Congress ticket is absconding and supposedly in Hyderabad increasing the tension in the party.
A letter was submitted earlier today to the Governor supposedly signed by 117 MLAs who declared their support to to a coalition government headed by Kumaraswamy. Citing the examples of Goa and Manipur where despite not being the single largest party, the BJP formed the government by striking up alliances, the coalition seemed to have a solid argument on their side. The Governor kept his reply reserved for after a consulting conversation with legal experts.
BJP Spokespersons have gone on to defend all attacks against the party citing Goa and Manipur as examples by saying the Congress never approached the Governor to form the government. Although the precedent is to invite the single largest party to form the government in recent times, the step taken by the parties seeking to form the government seems to take priority. Nevertheless, moral attacks have no legal binding as for every argument chiding the BJP for its double standards, there is one shaming the other two for theirs in seeking power against popular mandate.
Governor Vajubhai Vala, an old BJP hand finally broke the tension as he invited Yeddyurappa to form the Government subject to his proving a majority within 15 days through a floor test. The decision came after consulting former Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi who favoured the single largest party as the stronger claimant. The Congress has already made its next move clear with taking matters to the Supreme Court and if need be, the President for further deliberation, but Yeddyurappa’s swearing in tomorrow at 9 AM seems to be a sure shot possibility for now.
How the BJP will prove its majority is a theory rampart with speculation and the only possibility as of now seems to be garnering the support of MLA of JDS or Congress. While it would help their case in proving a majority, the stance change would require the sitting MLA to resign and by-polls would have to be held to elect the representative. While BJP fights with the deflected MLAs on its side, the Congress-JDS would have to look for new candidates. Although all 117 MLAs have signed the document and have made their stance clear, what will happen in the next 2 weeks is anyone’s guess. A sign on a paper is surely doesn’t stand against a confidence vote made according to procedure in a house sitting. If at all MLA poaching is done, it will no doubt be one of the biggest betrayals to the democratic fabric of the country, but hey, no one deserves to claim moral high ground in politics. Isn’t exploiting the loopholes of democracy the one constant throughout recent history?