Uncertainty in the political terrain of Karnataka is heading for an end after the dramatic 'fall' of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government on Tuesday, with the BJP now making preparations to stake a claim to rule the state. The 18-day-long political potpourri so far had the country's attention engrossed where leaders from the coalition were put through intense loyalty test and outgoing Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy tried all sorts of carrot and stick ways to cling on to his chair.
However, no matter who won the game, all contenders for the throne left the audience with memorable one-liners to remember the almost-month-long episode by.
From issuing clarifications about whether or not Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy ate biryani to playing cricket and camping in the Karnataka Assembly, MLAs on both sides of the House (unintentionally) delivered light-hearted moments as a distraction from the painfully slow disintegration of a state government in its entirety.
As the state geared up for the trust vote on 18 July (which became 19, then 22, until a conclusion on 23 July), the Congress, JD(S) and BJP traded accusations and counter-accusations about 'horse-trading' and the infamous 'Operation Kamala' — which is the unofficial moniker given to BJP's alleged poaching activities.
Once the Assembly started, however, the discussions (about everything except the trust vote) got more comprehensive. Kumaraswamy opened his arguments in defence of his government on Monday with unambiguously stating that he had not had biryani with IMA Ponzi scam accused, Mansoor Khan.
"I did not eat any biryani," he said in reference to his photograph with the prime accused in the multi-crore scam, Khan, which had gone viral online. "I am accused of having biryani at a particular person's house. I was invited during Ramzan. I went there. I did not eat any biryani. After two health scares, I have given up non-vegetarian (food). I picked up only two morsels of rice," he said in the Assembly during the discussion on the trust vote.
In response, Karnataka Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar pointed out, "Don't bother about food habits."
The chief minister also had a fitting reply to the BJP on 19 July for accusing his brother and state minister HD Revanna of "doing black magic" after he carried a lemon with him into the state Assembly. Revanna has also been cited as one of the main causes for the 16 rebel MLAs having resigned, which, it turns out, was the final nail in the grave of the fledgeling government.
"You blame Revanna for carrying a lemon. You (BJP) believe in Hindu culture but you attack him. He carries lemon with him and goes to a temple. But you accuse him of doing black magic. Is it even possible to save a government by black magic?" Kumaraswamy said.
Kumaraswamy also raised the issue of an alleged "fake" resignation letter being circulated in his name on social media. Speaking about this allegedly fake resignation letter, the chief minister said, "I got information that I have tendered my resignation to the Governor. I don't know who is waiting to become chief minister. Someone has forged my signature and has spread the same on social media. I am shocked. It is a cheap tactic of politics."
Karnataka minister DK Shivakumar on Tuesday, hours before the government lost the confidence motion appealed to the BJP to end the "murder of democracy", and also claimed that he would "go to jail for his party and his friends".
Taking on an emotional tone while speaking about his failed attempt to meet the rebel MLAs in Mumbai on 10 July the Congress leader said he was "backstabbed", not by the BJP but by "his own friends". The rebel MLAs sought protection from the Mumbai Police ahead of Shivakumar's visit, because of which the minister had to conduct a U-turn back to Bengaluru.
In the House on Tuesday, Shivakumar said, "This has deeply hurt me. I was forced to stand in the streets of Mumbai. What prevents them from coming here and saying openly that they are against the government?" The Lok Sabha mandate, Yeddyurappa should remember, wasn't for him but for Modi."
During this visit to Mumbai, Shivakumar insisted that the rebel MLAs' "hearts were beating" to meet him. "Nothing is permanent in politics. There are no friends and no enemies. Anyone can turn at any moment. I am trying to contact them (rebel MLAs). I will get a call. Their heart is beating to meet their friend," he said.
Shivakumar also said that the coalition leaders had extended 'consideration' towards the rebel MLAs because of "friendship". He said, "I could have easily locked up rebel MLAs in a room, but I did not do it because of the friendship."
"I have been facing harassment from ED and central agencies for protecting Congress MLAs from Gujarat. I have been a jail minister earlier and may be it's my fate that I may have to go to jail. But many great leaders here have gone to jail and come back to do politics here," he was quoted by The Hindu as saying in the House.
"Media portrays us like jokers and calls us thieves. We cannot walk with respect anymore. I can’t even say that I’m a politician," he also said in the course of his arguments.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee also weighed in on the Karnataka political crisis. She condemned what she called the "locking up of Congress MLAs". Mamata also termed the episode as a "conspiracy of Delhi."
"Congress MLAs locked up, media prevented from entering the place. This is horse-trading. We are united against this conspiracy of Delhi. This is a conspiracy to break Karnataka's government. The house in a united manner condemns the issue," she said in the West Bengal Assembly.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, meanwhile, maintained stoic silence in the House and otherwise so as to not harm its chances of losing the trust vote and succeeding the coalition government. However, the party did confidently state that various days of the last week were going to be the coalition government's "last day".
While the Congress and JD(S) were struggling to keep afloat amid a sea of resignations, state BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa enjoyed a weekend game of cricket in the Bengaluru hotel that the party's MLAs were accommodated in.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jul 24, 2019 17:22:51 IST