The inevitable has finally happened. The JD(S)-Congress coalition government in Karnataka has fallen 12 days after Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy sought to move the confidence motion in the state Assembly.
The trust vote was defeated on Tuesday, the fourth day when the House debated on the confidence motion, bringing an end to the high-voltage intense power struggle. The motion was defeated with 99 members voting for the motion and 105 against it.
"The motion moved by the Chief Minister has fallen through," Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar announced as Kumaraswamy watched the proceedings sitting in a pensive mood after a spirited reply to the debate.
Exactly 14 months ago on 23 May, 2018, Kumaraswamy had assumed office with great fanfare. It was billed to be a defining occasion not because the Congress after losing the elections badly (down from 122 to 80 in a 224-member Assembly) supported the JD(S) which was had also come down from 40 to 37 to deny the BJP (up from 44 to 104 seats) an opportunity to lead the government in the state but also because they believed this would shape a grand coalition of opposition across the nation to take on Narendra Modi and BJP in the 2019 parliamentary elections.
Leaders of around two dozen Opposition parties from across the country smiled and cheered on the dais. Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee, Chandrababu Naidu, Akhilesh Yadav and others jostled for space on the right and left of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. HD Deve Gowda and his family played the role of a perfect host. Despite the Congress having more than double numbers than the JD(S), Sonia and Rahul had agreed to make Kumaraswamy the Chief Minister of Karnataka and let their party play the second fiddle. This was believed to be the template for the parliamentary elections and the post-election scenario if the need be.
Kumaraswamy appeared very emotional and may have blamed the BJP for whatever has happened since 1 July when two Congress MLAs first revolted, but the fact remains that right after assuming office he knew that his government was full of internal contradictions and his time would be up in about a year time. He had said that his government would survive till the parliamentary elections were over. He had even cried in front of an audience made of his own people and said: "You are standing with bouquets to wish me, as one of your brothers became CM and you all are happy, but I'm not. I know the pain of coalition govt. I became Vishkanth and swallowed the pain of coalition govt.”
He had earlier complained that the Congress had reduced him to a clerk and is forcing him to sign all kinds of orders. But then he had perhaps started enjoying whatever perks and privileges he had as the Chief Minister of Karnataka under howsoever pressure he was forced to work.
Over a fortnight, he had been trying to cling to power, using all kinds of tricks to delay the confidence vote, notwithstanding the fact that it was he who had demanded it on 12 July.
Around 20 MLAs including those from Congress, JD(S), Independents and BSP who had been supporting the coalition government had deserted — 16 resigned and four abstaining from the House on one pretext or another. It was clear that for the past fortnight that he didn’t have the numbers. His government had been reduced to a minority, but till such time it was proved on the floor of the House, he could stay put on the chief minister's chair. It’s a different matter that the drama had made a mockery of the parliamentary process, all in the name of the Speaker being the supreme authority on issues concerning the proceedings of the Assembly.
Kumaraswamy never had the mandate to rule Karnataka. He was the leader of a party which was number three in the state Assembly. Besides, JD(S) number had also gone down in the Lok Sabha elections held in May last year. The Congress had lost almost half of its seats, from a position where it ruled the state with an absolute majority. In this year’s parliamentary elections, the BJP swept the polls conclusively defeating the JD(S)-Congress alliance, so much so that even former prime minister and party patriarch HD Deve Gowda and his grandson Nikhil Kumaraswamy (HD Kumaraswamy’s son) lost the election. Mallikaurjuna Kharge, top Congress leader and former leader of the party in the Lok Sabha, also lost the election.
The parliamentary poll results were a further affirmation that Congress-JD(S) combine didn’t have the mandate to rule the state. Under the circumstances, it was understandable that so many of coalition MLAs raised a banner of revolt.
Going from what Congress’ strongman DK Shivkumar said on Sunday that the JD(S) had agreed to sacrifice the chief minister's post if it was possible to save the government by naming either of the three — Siddaramaih, G Parmeshwara and Shivkumar — as the new chief minister fuelled speculations that the Congress' internal factional fight was someway responsible for the current scenario. More so, after the state Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao denied any such proposal from Congress.
People of the state have suffered for the last one month for there had been no government in the state and governance was on an autopilot mode.
No one outside of his core support base would rue Kumarswamy’s exit from power.
Updated Date: Jul 23, 2019 21:34:24 IST