VOTERS of Karnataka have every reason to feel cheated by their elected representatives. Less than 14 months after the Assembly elections, a spate of resignations by Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) MLAs has brought the HD Kumaraswamy government to its knees. The May 2018 polls had thrown up a hung House, with the BJP emerging as the largest party with 104 seats but falling tantalisingly short of majority. The Congress-JD (S) alliance had managed to form the government on the back of the popular vote, but it has had a rollercoaster ride over the past year. The results of the Lok Sabha elections — the BJP winning 25 of the 28 seats and the allies getting just one each — have undoubtedly precipitated the upheaval.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has dismissed the political crisis as an ‘internal matter’ of the Congress, delinking the BJP (and the government at the Centre) from the developments. However, it is hard to believe that vested interests are not involved in the frantic attempts to hasten the collapse of an already shaky government. The presence of ‘disgruntled’ MLAs in an upscale Mumbai hotel doesn’t leave much room for doubt that horse-trading is in progress.
What lends credence to the allegations of poaching are the goings-on in another non-BJP-ruled state, West Bengal. During an election rally in Hooghly district on April 29, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had warned Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that her (Trinamool Congress) MLAs would desert her after the results of the General Election and claimed that 40 of them were already in touch with him. Indeed, dozens of TMC leaders have switched over to the BJP in recent weeks. The unsavoury admission by the PM himself underlines the pressing need for the BJP to convincingly clear the air about what is happening in Karnataka too. Swarming with opportunists, the Kumaraswamy dispensation never had the legs to go the distance. But the hasty bid to chop off those legs is not only unfair but also undemocratic.