Grand BJP-JD(S) ascent in Karnataka
By Sunita Govind
?After January 14, the Uttarayan has begun and the sun has started moving north and the BJP'ssun has risen in the south?, was how the BJP President, Rajnath Singh beautifully explained the formation of the first government south of the Vindhyas in which the party is a key alliance partner.
?Lotus Blooms in the South? is how one of the headlines in a major newspaper screamed as majority of legislators of the Janata Dal (Secular), who had been supporting the Congress-led government headed by Chief Minister Dharam Singh, decided to bid adieu to the alliance and join hands with nationalist forces.
The last 20 months have seen rampant corruption, deterioration in law and order, highlighted by the rape of a call centre employee, and collapse of infrastructure of Karnataka in general and Bangalore in particular.
The floods during the monsoon devastated the Garden City and the state and saw the Dharam Singh government remaining a mute spectator, much to the chagrin of residents and entrepreneurs who had invested heavily in the country'sIT hub.
The failure of the administration also witnessed frequent clashes between the alliance partners, leading the state nowhere. In tune with its politics of divide-and-rule, Congress, instead of concentrating on governance, was spending all its energies on splitting JD(S) and courting the party'sdissidents, earning the wrath of JD(S) chief H.D. Deve Gowda in the process.
Though Gowda gave rhetorical back-up to the resentment among the party MLAs and cadres, he ended up chanting secularism when it came to withdrawing support, which only fuelled the frustration of the legislators including his own son H.D. Kumaraswamy.
?I am searching for the real meaning of secularism?, Kumaraswamy told journalists when asked why he was aligning with the ?communal? BJP.
Incidentally, despite being the single largest party in the Assembly, it was not the BJP that took the initiative to form a new Government in the state.
JD(S) leaders got in touch with Leader of Opposition B.S. Yediyurappa and state BJP President Jagdish Shettar. The latter were even advised by the central leadership not to hurry and wait till concrete proposals came.
Finally, with the central leadership giving the go ahead, MLAs of both the BJP and the JD(S) elected H.D. Kumaraswamy as leader and met state Governor T.N. Chaturvedi, who in a magnanimous gesture gave full nine days time to Dharam Singh to prove his majority.
However, despite all the efforts by Gowda to persuade his son to return to the pseudo-secular fold and all the allurements under the sun the Congress party led by Sonia Gandhi offered to Kumaraswamy and JD(S) MLAs to part ways with BJP, the young leader, who understood that only an alliance with a principled ally can take the state forward, stuck to his ground.
On the date chosen by him, Dharam Singh failed to take the confidence vote and rather chose to question the Speaker'sdecision to recognise Kumaraswamy as the leader of the JD(S) forcing the Presiding Officer to adjourn the House sine die.
After consulting legal and constitutional experts, the Governor asked the alliance led by Kumaraswamy to form the government and prove its majority on the floor of the House.
Even as Gowda made a last ditch effort to wean away his son, the BJP remained unperturbed. ?They (JD-S) came to us. We have nothing to lose? was the stoic response of senior party leader M Venkaiah Naidu, who as central observer, played a key role in hammering out the alliance.
Under the agreement, Kumaraswamy would be the Chief Minister with BJP leader B.S. Yediyurappa as Deputy Chief Minister for the first 20 months whereafter the latter would take over the reins of the state with a JD(S) nominee as his Deputy.
Following the previous government'sformula, the JD(S) would have 16 ministerial portfolios in its kitty while the BJP would have 18. Assembly Speaker, Krishna would continue to remain in office for the first half while a BJP nominee would become the Presiding Officer thereafter.
Kumaraswamy and Yediyurappa took oath of office on February 3, bringing the curtain down on a prolonged political drama and putting the state back on the path of development. BJP President Rajnath Singh was present on the occasion. The new Chief Minister would prove his majority on the floor of the House on February 8.
The formation of the government comes as the first victory for Rajnath Singh, whose appointment as BJP President was formally ratified by the National Council in Delhi on January 20.
As former Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee rightly put it, the period of Sankraman has been blown over with Uttarayan and blooming of the lotus for the first time in the south within a little over a fortnight after Makar Sankranti augurs well for the party. The Karnataka developments would certainly have its echo not only in the poll-bound neighbouring states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu but also in West Bengal and Assam.