THE inevitable has happened. Central rule has been re-imposed in Karnataka after a brief and unseemly interlude. No one expected the B.S. Yeddyurappa Government to survive for long, but many thought former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda and his son H.D. Kumaraswamy would look and wait for a plausible reason to ditch the BJP. But the treacherous father-son duo needed no fig leaf to indulge in yet another political farce. They wouldn'tsupport the confidence motion moved simply because the BJP had firmly rejected unreasonable conditions attached to ?unconditional? support pledged by them. They wanted BJP to submit to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on stamp paper. The despicable MoU was nothing but a ridiculous document that ran against the concept of parliamentary system of government enshrined in the Constitution. There was no question of BJP condescending to sign it. No party worth its salt would be a party to a document that sought to undermine the powers and dignity of the Chief Minister and make his deputy a super Chief Minister. The unfolding of the farce confirmed the worst fears about the immorality involved in the JD (S)'sgame plan. Deve Gowda, whose commitment to political morality and democratic norms has always been suspect, was simply not interested in handing over power to the BJP as per the original agreement arrived at between the two parties after the JD (S) ditched the Congress 21 months ago. To give the devil his due, the former PM never kept secret his inclination not to honour the agreement. He is solely responsible for destroying whatever trust existed between the two parties. True to his dubious ways, he pretended to offer ?unconditional? support to the BJP even while persistently refusing to withdraw his demand to dissolve the Assembly contained in separate communications he had sent to the Governor and the President of India.
One of the major reasons why JD (S) pretended it had a ?change of heart? and was willing to support BJP-led Government as per the original agreement was to prevent an imminent split in the JD (S) Legislative Party. A section of party legislators had revolted against the leadership and were in touch with the Central leadership of the Congress party with a view to joining the latter to emerge as a viable option. Although the Congress party maintained a discreet silence over the issue, there is little doubt that it relished the move. It was to checkmate this development that would have vastly reduced JD (S)'srelevance in Karnataka, that father-son duo conspired to hoodwink BJP. They shamelessly ate their words and pleaded with BJP to revive the coalition. BJP high command was reluctant but eventually allowed the state to go ahead. Since the Governor was reluctant to revive the Assembly, the JD (S) submitted to the Governor sworn affidavits by individual MLAs about their ?unconditional? support to the BJP. Having achieved his objective of averting the split, or so the party thought, the JD (S) had no qualms of conscience to take yet another U turn converting its unconditional support to a charter of a dozen unacceptable demands.
This time round, the JD (S) didn'ttalk about secular-communal divide. It simply let it be known that its main interest was in two lucrative portfolios ? Urban Development and Mining. There could be nothing more brazen and mercenary. The BJP put its foot down saying it would not budge an inch from the original agreement. The central leadership too told the state unit not to accept any further demand from the JD (S). This is as it should be. Allocation of portfolios even in a coalition is the prerogative of the Chief Minister. The mercenaries saw no interest in heading ?dry? ministries and the rest is history. Political observers are of the view that yet another factor that encouraged father-son duo to stage a political summersault is the deep-rooted apprehension about the party losing its mass base in the state if it remained tied up with the BJP. They refer to several states, including M.P., Rajasthan, Gujarat and Himachal, where BJP initially came to power with the support of small regional parties, but gradually occupied non-Congress political space at the cost of regional outfits. Was this indeed a factor?
BJP has every right to cry foul. The party fulfilled its part of the agreement with sincerity and without creating problems for the alliance partner. In return, it received only abuses and non-cooperation. It has been hoodwinked and stabbed in the back. Yet, it should not have expected anything better as it had trusted a party that had time and again betrayed its lack of commitment to political morality. On the positive side, BJP ministers, by and large, gave a good account of themselves during the 20 months they shared power in the state. Yeddyurapa'sdevelopment-oriented agenda and his administrative skills have won him new supporters and well-wishers. The party'strack record will stand the party in good stead in the coming elections.
The ball is now firmly in the court of the people of Karnataka. Hopefully, they have drawn appropriate lessons from their bitter experience of returning a fractured verdict.
One of the major reasons why JD (S) pretended it had a ?change of heart? and was willing to support BJP-led Government as per the original agreement was to prevent an imminent split in the JD (S) Legislative Party. A section of party legislators had revolted against the leadership and were in touch with the Central leadership of the Congress party with a view to joining the latter to emerge as a viable option.