Congress-Janata Dal (S) coalition ministry after tough political bargaining makes everybody think whether this coalition will have smooth sailing. Sharing of ministerial berths and portfolios between the two parties has left an impression of shame on the electorate and people have started thinking whether it can provide smooth functioning.
It took seventeen days after the Assembly results to decide who would be the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister. The bitter foes turned reluctant friends—Congress and JD(S)—are forming the government in instalments.
Congress and Janata Dal (S) had been talking to each other during the polls on settling their differences by ignoring their short-lived election manifestos. Their Common Minimum Programme is not focused on the people'swelfare but to keep the BJP at bay. Interestingly, even the coalition partners struggled to sort out the differences over allocation of portfolios, threats of pulling out from the coalition by JD(S), and muscle-flexing coalition partners having decided that each side will have five ministers. Eight days after the formation of the Congress-led coalition government, five ministers each from Congress and JD(S) were inducted on June 6, ending the argument between the two parties over sharing of key portfolios.
The induction of the first batch of ministers itself raised protests in both the parties because of the contradictions. Non-inclusion of senior Congress leaders, H.K. Patil and R.V. Deshpande sent shocks and surprises in the Congress camp. No Congress leader has a specific answer as to why their names were dropped by the High Command. When asked why his name was dropped from the ‘five’, H.K. Patil replied, “I do not know. I will abide by the High Command'sdecision.” H.K. Patil attended the swearing-in ceremony and decided to leave Bangalore, before saying, “I have no work to do here, I will be back in my home village to work as a legislator.” The swearing-in ceremony was a tame affair at the Congress camp due to the non-inclusion of senior leaders.
Discontent and uncertainty reigned when the ten ministers were administered the oath. ‘Will it last? If it lasts, how long?’ was the overwhelming feeling. “It is a challenging proposition for it to last mainly because of lack of leadership. Unless the leaders come out of their shells of their egos and personal interests, it is difficult for a coalition to survive,” says Prof. T.V.N. Rao, a leading educationalist. “How can two parties with two strong ideologies work together?” asks Renjana, a management student.
Chief Minister Dharam Singh has brought cheers among JD(S) leaders while many senior Congress leaders were disappointed and discontented. The major issue nagging the Congress and JD(S) leadership is of accommodating the MLAs commensurate with their seniority and experience.
The Congress feels betrayed that all key portfolios like finance, revenue, public works and higher education were bagged by the JD(S). Excise, which was with the Chief Minister, has also been taken away by the Deputy Chief Minister Suddaramiah, who holds also finance. JD(S) is sitting pretty with plum portfolios, sidelining many Congress leaders. The Deputy Chief Minister appears to be in greater command. It looks like the Congress has surrendered to JD(S) at the ministry-formation level itself and appears to be in total disarray. Murmurs have already begun in its camp.
BJP is sceptical about the alliance of Congress with JD(S). In an interview, BJP Karnataka president, Ananth Kumar said, “The JD(S) betrayed the people'smandate and committed a fraud by joining with the Congress—a rejected party. It is a paradoxical situation where a party with highest numbers will have to sit in the opposition.” He was surprised as to how JD(S) could stoop so low, a party which was strong during Jayaprakash Narayan'smovement and which formed the non-Congress government in 1983, 1989 and 1994. “BJP will campaign across the state to give vent to people'sfeelings,” he added.