The Chief Minister of Karnataka, H D Kumaraswamy, has announced that he will kick start his famous Grama Vasthavya (village stay) programme from June 21. This certainly could be one of the ways in which the government can come closer to the voters. This government has been critiqued and criticised for being south Karnataka centric in its policies and completely neglecting the dry north Karnataka region.
Grama Vasthavya or village stay was a famous programme launched by H D Kumaraswamy during his first tenure as the CM between 2006-2008. The CM would visit random houses in different villages across the state and live in those houses for a couple of days. The programme aimed at keeping the government informed about the issues being faced by the people in the villages. Amidst all sorts of negative speculations and baseless allegations of the BJP that the people of the state are unhappy with current government, the CM has announced that he will restart this programme from June 21. In an open letter to the media, the CM has clarified that this move is not aimed at gaining popularity, but at understanding how the government bodies function in the villages and checking on the implementation of the government policies.
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This move of the CM comes in the backdrop of the recently concluded general elections in May. Ever since the results of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections were announced, the Congress and JDS coalition government has come to garnerspecial attention, because of the desperation of BJP to form government in the state. The two parties contested together as a coalition in the general election and managed to get only two seats (Congress in Bengaluru rural and JD(S) in Hassan), while the BJP swept off 26 seats. This mandate of the people also led to a range of speculations. Questions like whether the Congress MLAs would defect to BJP and thus lead to collapse of the government, and whether there is a possibility of re-elections started being asked. On Tuesday, Janata Dal (S) State president H. Vishwanath announced his resignation from the party post. This lead to speculations about whether the coalition government is in danger.
Vishwanath has stated his discontent with the functioning of the coalition government and the defeat of the party supremo H D Deve Gowda in Tumkur as the reasons for his resignation. While addressing the press persons, Vishwanath made it clear that he would not be joining the BJP. The Hindu reported him asking, “Who would join a party that has lost in the elections of the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs)?” As Newsclick reported earlier, the people of the 63 ULBs that went to poll on May 29 have overwhelmingly voted for the Congress. While the Congress won 509 seats, JD(S) won 174 seats, and BJP 366 seats while independent candidates got 160 seats, the Bahjuan Samajwadi Party won three, CPI(M) two, and other parties won seven.
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UBLs, like city municipalities, town municipalities and town panchayats, play a direct role in governance by providing basic services like health care. In these elections, people elect the candidates or the parties who have delivered on their promises. Thus, the Congress is celebrating its victory and JD(S) too is hopeful about its performance. It seems highly unlikely that the coalition government would collapse unless the BJP haunts the Congress and JD(S) ministers to defect to the BJP. But likes of Pralhad Joshi, a BJP MP from the state, and B S Yeddyurappa are of the opinion that the coalition government “will collapse in its own.”
The Congress and JD(S) however are staying alert about the possibility of defection of their MLAs to BJP. The recently held party meeting of the Congress saw a good attendance of its MLAs. Out of its total 79 MLAs, it is reported that 72 of them attended the meeting. The Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told the media that out of the seven missing MLAs, everyone apart from Ramesh Jarkiholi and Roshan Baig had explanations for their absence at the meeting.
Also Read: Is Congress-JD(S) Coalition Government of Karnataka in Danger?