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Karnataka Verdict: A Hung Assembly

Kingson Chingakham



In one of the disgraceful political slugfest, the election results of the state assembly of Karnataka brought an unending drama.The Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) emerged as the single largest party by winning 104 seats from the total assigned seats of 224. The Congress party closed with 78 seats and the regional party- Janata Dal(Secular) [JD(S)] took many by surprise with 37 seats.

In comparison to the results of 2013, the BJP gained 65 more seats in this election whereas the Congress party lost 43 seats. In terms of vote share, the Congress received the highest share with 38 per cent, followed by the BJP with 36 per cent and the JD(S) with 18 per cent. We should applaud the tremendous performance by the BJP in terms of the vote share(the BJP received only 20 percent vote share in 2013). With 0.9 per cent votes to None of the Above (NOTA), 3,22,471 voters disapproved all the candidates.

What went wrong for the Congress Party?

The Congress followed the colonial legacy of divide and rule.The party tried to divide the Lingayat votes with the recommendation of a separate religion status for the community. This backfired as the Lingayat belt voted in favour of the BJP’s candidate BS Yeddyurappa. Many south Indians negate using the faces of North Indian politics.But in this election,we saw the reliance of the BJP on PM Narendra Modi and the party Chief Amit Shah due to lack of prominent faces in the state leadership.

The Congress heavily relied on the identity politics,throwing themselves to ideological bankruptcy.In fact, the BJP benefited from a consolidation by dominant castes against the Congress Party. Sri Siddaramaiah,the former CM from the Congress Party, excessively believed that his welfare programmes would bring him back to power.In this process, he completely neglected ‘social entente’. Management of social entente in a state like Karnataka is critical considering the complex social diversity.The Congress approach towards the two dominant communities- Vokkaligas and the Lingayats was self-defeating.

The Congress was hanging on the minorities, OBCs, SC/ST (known as AHINDA in the Kanada acronym).They were the primary beneficiaries of Siddaramaiah’s welfare governance. Either the consolidation of these groups did not reach the expectation of the party or the support from AHINDA proved insufficient to win this election.

Tug of War

None of the parties got the required majority to form the party. Even before the final results were out, configurations had begun among the parties. The former Congress party President Smt.Sonia Gandhi called up the former PM and National President of JD(S), HD Deve Gowda and offered a post-poll alliance.The Congress party also assured HD Kumaraswamy, son of Deve Gowda for the position of the CM. Later on, by exercising discretion of the Governor, Vajubhai Vala called the BJP for government formation. The Governor allowed the BJP to proceed and was given 15 days to prove majority on the floor.

This angered the Congress and the JD(S). With the post-poll alliance, the alliance got 116 seats, crossing the half way mark. The Congress cited the episodes of Goa and Manipur where the party emerged as the single largest party but the Governors invited the BJP for government formation. The Congress party knocked the doors of the Supreme Court(SC) at the middle of the night. The SC ordered to prove the majority within 48 hours. This was the beginning of ‘resort politics’ by the Congress and the alleged ‘horsetrading’ by the BJP.This exposed the low confidence of the congress party on their legislative members. Audio tapes of the BJP members bribing the elected members of the Congress and JD(S) were released (though the authenticity has not been proven yet).

Another drama unfolded with the appointment of a pro tem speaker. A pro tem speaker is appointed temporarily to conduct the works in the legislature or the parliament. He/she is usually the most experienced member.The BJP MLA KG Bopaiah was appointed as the pro tem speaker. The congress dug out his history of biasness.The Congress party again knocked the door of the Supreme Court. The SC upheld the appointment of Mr Bopaiah and ordered live telecasting of the floor test.

Yeddyurappa does Vajpayee

In 1996, the BJP emerged as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha elections.Atal Bihari Vajpayee was to prove trust vote but resigned ahead of the trust vote after giving an emotional speech showcasing high moral grounds. HD Deve Gowda, the leader of the United Front, took up the position of the PM.

Similarly, Yeddyurappa gave an emotional speech spanning around 20 minutes and resigned ahead of the trust vote clearing the roadblock for HD Kumaraswamy, the son of HD Deve Gowda for the position of CM. This is expected to gain sympathy from the public by salvaging some moral high ground.

This was the third time Yeddyurappa gave up the chief minister’s chair well before the end of his term.The shortest being the latest stint, he stepped down two days after taking oath. He promised that he will gift all the 28 seats to PM Narendra Modi for the Lok Sabha elections due next year. He also gave the confidence of winning 150 seats in the next state assembly.

Uncertain Future

JD(S) have had it’s issues with the Congress.The differences between HD Deve Gowda and Siddaramaiah intensified during the latter’s tenure as CM. The issue was over the politics of Vokkaliga community. Siddaramaiah had also removed the portrait of Deve Gowda from the CM’s office. With many differences on the plate, the two parties have come up to realign their ideologies to defeat the BJP. One reason given by the Congress party for this alliance was that the ‘JD(S) is a secular party’ which matches with the congress ideologies. Where was this secularism before the polls? Undoubtedly,secularism is one of the most misused words in the country.

The Governor has ordered a floor test within 14 days to Mr Kumaraswamy. Many political analyst have predicted an unstable government due to the historical differences between the two parties.Opponents have also condemned the move of the Congress by offering the CM position to Kumaraswamy, whose party got only 18 per cent of the vote share. The hunger for power and the animosities of the two dominant national parties have failed the public yet again through it’s political immorality.  

(The story was reported before the floor test of Mr Kumaraswamy)

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