For now, it seems to be smooth sailing for BS Yediyurappa. He has already written a fresh chapter in Karnataka political history by becoming a four-time chief minister of the state. He comfortably won the vote of confidence where the opposition didn’t ask for a division of votes.
The Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar who was at the centre of the controversy for last one month resigned immediately after affirming Yediyurappa had the majority and the confidence of the state Assembly. By resigning Kumar chose to go out with grace, he has made the task easier for Yediyurappa and the BJP as the ruling party, in any case, would have removed Kumar and brought in its own Speaker by moving a motion in the House.
At the outset, it would appear that hours before Kumar relinquished Speaker’s office, he helped Yediyurappa in stabilising his position (majority) by disqualifying 17 Congress and JD (S) MLAs (14 of Congress and three of the JD-S). It should be noted that all the 17 MLAs who have been declared disqualified had resigned and had even met the Speaker in person to validate it. Their resignation was genuine, and not forced or fake. As per the disqualification order, the 17 MLAs can’t contest election during the tenure of the current assembly (till 2023). They can’t become a minister and also can’t get any position in the government like the chairperson of a corporation with ministerial perks.
Under the given scenario, Yediurappa and BJP brass won’t have the headache of satisfying them with ministerial berths, negotiate for portfolios and other such position in state-run PSUs. He can now go for swearing-in of his council of ministers, made up only of BJP members.
But taking all that on face value could be misleading. It is not as rosy as it may appear for Yediyurappa. He has a lot more managing to do in terms of political management and governance.
A senior BJP leader who is actively engaged in managing the unfolding developments in Karnataka told Firstpost that the party was conscious of the challenges that lay ahead. To a query as to whether or not it will be easier for the new Chief Minister of Karnataka to form his Cabinet and run the government without constantly bothering to satisfy the ever-growing aspirations of the "rebel Congress and JD(S) MLAs (now disqualified)", he said while people outside may take this view, they don’t like to see the emerging situation in those terms.
His argument about 17 disqualified MLAs would indicate why it was important for the Yediurappa and the BJP to keep them in good humour till there is a judicial pronouncement from the Supreme Court on their disqualification.
First, the disqualification of the 17 MLAs, for now, has reduced the strength of the Assembly from 225 to 208 and the BJP with 105 members has a clear majority. But the by-elections have to happen in due course and the outcome may once again potentially change the composition of the Assembly.
Second, most of about a dozen and half MLAs disqualified are leaders in their own right. They are strong men in their own region with significant clout and a great deal of mass contact. Most of them have also capabilities to mobilise substantive financial resources on their own.
Third, the BJP leaders believe that even if one goes by the current position that they are disqualified from contesting in the upcoming by-elections, nothing prevents them from field their wives, sons, daughters or some other family member to contest the election and help them win.
Fourth, all these MLAs would challenge the Speaker’s order in the Supreme Court and most people in BJP circles think that they would get relief from the apex court. Their argument is the Speaker has applied his discretion in the wrong way. Nobody at this stage would know whether or not there would be a relief, and if there is one, what kind of relief could be there. Senior leaders in the BJP are conscious of the situation and have accordingly devised their strategy.
Fifth, if the Court ruled that they could contest elections and if they contest on BJP ticket and win it, the party will have to reward them.
So, even if they are not being offered any position in the government, for now, they will be kept in good humour, treated well in terms of interpersonal relationship and look after for long terms gains.
Deliberations on the formation of the council of ministers were not touched until now for two reasons — the focus was on a confidence vote. This test had to be passed first with ease and this has been done. Second and more importantly any premature deliberations had the potential of leakage, which would have had complicated the situation.
Updated Date: Jul 29, 2019 19:33:33 IST