Y Satyanarayana

Which way will the Karnataka pendulum eventually swing? While the decision may rest with the Bengaluru Raj Bhavan, what the country is once again witnessing is an ugly display of tussle for chief ministership playing out in the state capital.

Logically, one might say that the BJP after having emerged as the largest single party should be a given a chance to get its act together to form a government. However, this argument fails to answer a key question--where will the BJP manage to find the elusive 8 legislators unless it indulges in open horse-trading. We, as lay citizens are so used to this spectacle playing out at the time of government formation that depending on which side we are on we want our team, so to speak, to win. If we're BJP backers, let them please find the numbers fast. How do means matter? It's politics and hasn't it happened in the past?

If it's the Congress we're backing, well, the Governor should have called the coalition in, because that is what the Bommai judgment says, the Goa, Manipur precedents stare us in the face and so on.

Meanwhile, Congress and JD(S) legislators have rushed to the Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru staking their claim. The JD(S) leader and chief ministerial candidate has in fact, accused the BJP of trying to lure its legislators with an offer of Rs.100 crores.

Who forms the government now has become, in a sense, irrelevant. What we see now is a farce being played out in the name of democracy. A Whatsapp joke doing the rounds says that the candidate who came first with 104 (BJP) seems to have come last in this reckoning, while the candidate who stood on the last rung of the ladder in the count with 38 (JD-S) is placed at the head of things. That is indeed true of coalitions. A minority group holds the puppet strings at a critical moment and this is not the first time. V.P Singh, Chandrashekhar and Deve Gowda himself, among others, found themselves at the receiving end of things when it came to coalition politics and the game of numbers. When it comes to fractured mandates, this insecurity at the top comes with the territory.

The BJP should have perhaps, stepped back and let the larger group form the government, but that is hardly the kind of politics it would like to be seen to be indulging in, especially under Amit Shah. Power, as they say,is the biggest aphrodisiac and Yedyurappa would hardly like to let go of an opportunity, no matter how difficult a task it is, at the moment.

The biggest casualty in this entire episode, staged in front of a media and by extension, the country, is credibility. The loss of integrity in the eyes of the people, is something our elected representatives should be worried about. Are they concerned? Already under a cloud, the politician of the day regardless of the party he belongs to hardly seems act in a manner that would redeem his image.

In a drama of claims and counter claims by JD(S) and Congress as a formation and BJP with "a little help from its friends", to echo the Beatles' refrain, the Karnataka picture gets murkier and murkier. Surely, this is not what Karnataka deserves even if it did not vote, as we can now say in retrospect, prudently enough.