The Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) [JD(S)] coalition government in Karnataka is facing the brunt of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) desperation to rule the state. The state is the only one of the five South Indian states where BJP has had its government. Therefore, BJP saw the Karnataka State Assembly elections, which was held on May 12, 2018, as a gateway for its presence in southern India. However, not getting the required votes to form the government, as the party and its government in the Centre had desired, has left the party desperate. With 104 seats in the Assembly of 222 seats, BJP sits as an opposition party. It does not seem to able to digest this reality and has been attempting to disrupt the functioning of the newly formed coalition government. Beginning with the BJP leaders supporting the infamous and unsuccessful call for a separate statehood of the North Karnataka districts, to the recent allegations of sedition on the Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, to luring the MLAs of the Congress and the JD(S) with money, the BJP is on a mission of seeking revenge for their loss in the elections by destabilising the government.
The election mandate of the people of Karnataka, as seen on May 15, 2018, was not clear for any of the contesting parties. The BJP with 104 seats was in need of eight more to reach the minimum target of 112. The Congress with 80 seats and the JD(S) with 38 seats, came together in a post-poll alliance and formed the government. This was severely criticised by the BJP in the state, even though it is not extrajudicial. Even after the drama of the infamous “resort politics” and the formation of the Congress-JD(S) government, the BJP in the state refuses to be an opposition party, a “watch dog” over the decisions of the ruling government; and instead has decided to create chaos in the state disrupting the functioning of the government.
The CM on Thursday in a press meet in Bengaluru alleged that the BJP was trying to lure the MLAs of JD(S) and Congress with monetary favours and thus, destabilise the government. Kumaraswamy had said, “They (BJP) called MLAs and said by today or tomorrow, they will have 18 MLAs and move them to Mumbai. They called Suresh Gowda last night, saying it was an emergency and they wanted him to be the 19th member of the group.” A video of Congress MLAs K. Sudhakar and M.T.B. Nagaraj, both aspirants for Cabinet berths, and independent MLA for Mulbagal, H. Nagesh travelling out of the city together went viral on Friday. On Saturday, rumours of these MLAs being bought over and moved out of the state by the BJP- which the Congress and JD(S) had rubbished as “false” and “malicious”- dominated the local and national media.
The Congress in the state is currently facing an internal turmoil within the party. The former CM Siddaramaiah tweeted refuting the rumours, “The rumours of MLAs toppling the government are baseless and unfounded. There may be slight differences over development in their constituencies and that does not mean quitting.”
Speaking with LiveMint on September 18, 2018, a senior BJP leader based in Bengaluru had noted, “At least 15 MLAs of the Congress and JD(S) have approached BJP leaders in Karnataka. However, most of the leaders of the BJP are not in favour of holding these talks. The central leadership is also not keen, but a handful of BJP leaders are adamant about holding talks. These attempts may not result in anything and the coalition government would most likely survive.”
The rumour that the MLAs are on their way to a resort in Chennai and from there to Mumbai has been ridiculed by the government. Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president Dinesh Gundu Rao said the three legislators were in touch with the party and had only gone on a temple visit. “They will return to the city tomorrow,” he said, accusing the BJP of trying to create “unnecessary confusion in a desperate attempt to destabilise the government.” One cannot fathom if the rumours are right but it can be clearly seen that the coalition government is under great pressure to save its government.
Speaking in Channarayapatna Taluk in Hassan district on September 20, 2018, the CM Kumaraswamy had said: “The leaders of the BJP who are creating hurdles to this government which is bringing out development programmes for the state... I appeal to the people, from this government which has set out to work diligently, this pro-people government that they (BJP) want to topple, the people of this state should protest.” This, for the Karnataka BJP, is sedition. As a reaction to this statement, the BJP had called for a protest in various parts of the state on Friday. The party had also submitted a memorandum to Governor Vajubhai Vala and submitted a complaint to Director General of Police (DGP) Neelamani Raju.
In the complaint submitted to the DGP, BJP had said: “H.D. Kumaraswamy, the chief minister, having taken oath under the Constitution, is required to uphold the Constitution and the unity and integrity of the country…” The BJP had asked the police to book the chief minister under charges of attempting to wage war against the government of India and sedition, among others.
The JD(S) has approached Speaker Ramesh Kumar with a letter seeking immediate action to foil BJP’s alleged moves to lure Congress and JD(S) MLAs with inducements and coercion. The letter read, “State BJP president and opposition leader in the assembly, B.S. Yeddyurappa, has stated that the coalition government will topple on many occasions, in public meetings and to the media.” In the same letter the JD(S) requested the speaker “to prevent instances of MLAs offering their resignations tendered either under duress, political influence or even because of monetary inducements.”
Also read: Karnataka: BJP Snatches Defeat From Jaws of Victory
The recent political crisis in the state with the internal conflicts in both the Congress and JD(S) and the constant attacks by the BJP is disrupting the functioning of the government. The government now is busy in planning strategies to tackle all these obstacles. According to a report of The News Minute, senior state Congress leaders and the JD(S) met at former CM Siddaramaiah’s residence on Friday to discuss the recent developments. The meeting was attended by CM Kumaraswamy, Deputy CM G. Parameshwar, and state Congress President Dinesh Gundu Rao, where Siddaramaiah asked Kumaraswamy to think about what he is going to say and “maintain the dignity of the Chief Minister’s office.”
Read more: Lessons and Messages from Karnataka