May 25, 2008: “EVERYBODY THINKS we are going to get 35-40 seats, but I have full confidence that we are going to get a clear majority and form the government on our own,” boasted HD Kumaraswamy, one of the wiliest politicians ever seen in Karnataka. He is the chief ministerial candidate of the Janta Dal (S) in the recently concluded elections to the state’s legislature. He has been a ’successful’ chief minister (CM) after proving too smart for the bandicoots in both Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress. As usual, the ‘national parties’ had their own compulsions to support the man they hated the most.
Reading between the lines, one can make out that the truth in the former CM’s claim. Of course, his party may not get much more than the figure that he considered as gross under-statement. JD(S) may at the most bag a couple of more seats than the 40-mark in the 224-member Assembly. But, who said “getting a clear majority and forming the government” has to do anything with what the gullible electorate think?
For the BJP chief, BS Yeddiyurappa, who holds the record for the most ephemeral CM in the country – a matter of days, by which time, Kumaraswami pulled the rug under his feet – it will again be a story of ‘So near, but yet so far’! The BJP’s chief ministerial candidate may succeed in trouncing powerful former chief minister S Bangarappa in his den Shikaripura. He may lead his party to the winning post in the most number of seats. But, the poor man has to remain content as the leader of opposition in the House, if at all it is going to meet for business!
BJP leader Prakash Javadekar acceded defeat when he said he was confident of taking power in Karnataka “even if it finished only as the single largest party in the 224-seat Assembly.” Obviously that is impossible until the party gets an invitation to form a government and thus take an advantageous position in the inevitable horse-trading. Party spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad said, “The governor should invite the BJP now as the people’s verdict is clearly in our favour. It will be a case of gross political impropriety if the governor does not invite the BJP to form the government.” He reasoned, “The verdict is against the Congress, decisively against the JD (S).”
Unfortunately for the BJP, it is not the ‘vote against’ that matters in this business. Incidentally, octogenarian governor Rameshwar Thakur happens to be a loyal Congressman, even more loyal than the current President Pratibha Patil. Whether BJP can browbeat or bribe him to get into a position of strength is a moot question. In fact, even if the party had crossed the 112-mark, Yeddiyurappa would have had to negotiate with aspiring defectors from his party. Every one of them would want the deputy CM’s chair!
On the other hand, a Congress-JD(S) front can romp to power even if the two parties together do not cross the BJP’s tally. After all, there are quite a few avenues to ‘satisfy’ a couple of MLAs without making them ministers. For example, some gubernatorial or ambassadorial office for their nominees! SM Krishna, Karnataka Congress strongman and former CM, had been made governor of Maharashtra in order to ease him out from the state. He is now back in the fray after resigning the post. The chief ministerial candidate of Congress – claiming just about a third of the Assembly strength – said nonchalantly, “The Congress is equally spread in urban areas as well as rural areas. The Congress is omnipresent, it’s present everywhere!”
Congress strongman from the State, Veerappa Moily, is another such worthy to be ‘happy’ with the post of chairman in All India Congress Committee (AICC)’s media department. Moily is obviously open to do ’political business’ with JD(S) once again. He opined, “JD (S) had a nightmarish experience working with the BJP, but not with the Congress. We also worked with them for 20 months happily!” The past master in manipulations added, “The Congress has a culture of coalition. The party has always stood for stability. You know that the party has made sacrifices in the past for the sake of stability!” The ’stability’ he mentioned was apparently that of turncoats of his ilk!
The Karnataka situation throws one uncomfortable poser: Is it necessary to drain crores of rupees of public money in holding the farce of elections to put price tags on Other Articles by Natteri Adigal OOXML: India shooting itself in the foot? Two humiliations contrasted: Burney and Modi Ugly chicaneries behind BlackBerry controversy BlackBerry trashes demands of DoT, intelligence babus Far from blooming, it’s palling of ‘lotus’ in South more >> reprobates?
Next year’s parliamentary elections are likely to be no less a farce and cruel joke than the Karnataka one. A ’hung’ house would be propped, as it now is, by confirmed scoundrels. To avoid that, a fundamental rethinking is required on the set up, now existing in the erstwhile British Colony.
The people need to get a have a hang of what exactly is meant by democracy – as distinct from the one-man-one-vote nonsense, which makes them poorer with every election. Till then, hung houses will let them continue in penury as the only flourishing business in the country will be horse-trading!