Kommineni Srinivasa Rao

BJP leader Yeddyurappa has been sworn in as the chief minister of Karnataka. Governor Vajubhai Vala has become the butt of criticism. The BJP has managed to secure the post of the chief minister but has defeated the democracy is the comment made by Rahul Gandhi. In reality, this appears to be so. The Congress and JDS together were clearly ahead in terms of numbers, but the Governor did not give them an opportunity to prove their majority. But with 104 seats and as the largest single party, the BJP was provided with a chance by the Governor of Karnataka. The governor’s decision strikes one as odd, however, as it turned out, the Supreme Court refused to stay the swearing-in of Yedyurappa. The ceremony then, went off smoothly. The Congress-JDS combine was left protesting at the Mahatma Gandhi statue and elsewhere.

How will Yeddyurappa prove his majority, is the question uppermost on everyone’s mind. Will the BJP bring about a split in other parties? Will it resort to horse trading? Or as in the past, will it lure some Congress-JDS MLAs and get them to resign so that it can prove its majority. The developments of Karnataka have brought the BJP into disrepute. There is no doubt about this. However, the BJP tends to believe that public memory is short and therefore is moving ahead with its own strategy.

One thing is certain—if the Congress and JDS manage to keep their flock together, the BJP would find itself in a spot of bother. Will such a situation arise? That is the big question doing the rounds now. One of the factors to be taken into account is that the Congress-JDS alliance could prove to be a short-lived one, considering the fact that a majority of Congress candidates lost on account of close contests with the JDS. In fact, all these days, the Congress had been accusing JDS of being the B team of BJP.

Kumaraswamy of JDS thought for a moment, that he would become king, instead of being a kingmaker. Of course, the only intention which the Congress had was to keep BJP out of power and hence, its offer to Kumaraswamy to become chief minister.

The loopholes in our democratic system are all too evident. The BJP has indeed emerged as the largest single party with 104 seats. Yet, the Congress wants to keep out the largest single party and form the government with a smaller group. Similarly, Congress and JDS, which were at each other’s throats all these years, became allies and friends overnight. Had there been an alliance between them before the elections, one would not have had much of a problem with it. However, this alliance was forged after the elections and if there are people who call it immoral, one would not be in a position to fault them.

For the BJP, to be in power at the Centre and to have its governor in Karnataka proved to be an advantage. However, what is being debated is the extent to which the ruling party at the Centre would go in order to retain power. What one has seen in Karnataka is that all parties have resorted to immoral politics.

The examples of Goa and Manipur where the Governor invited minority groups to form governments. In the process the BJP benefited, but in Karnataka, this principle was overturned with the same BJP being invited to form the government as the largest single party. As Soli Sorabjee, the eminent jurist put it, the largest single party should be invited first by the governor to form the government. If the party fails to establish its majority, the governor should then invite the next party or group which has the maximum number of MLAs.

While the Congress party and the TDP, among others, wanted to defeat the BJP at the hustings, it must be pointed out that the BJP went ahead of the Congress in the final count. It is being said that some Congress legislators are already in touch with the BJP. It is also likely that the BJP may exploit differences within JDS. Perhaps it would have been better had the governor invited the Congress-JDS combine first and if it had failed to prove its majority, then invited the BJP to form a government. But there is always a lingering fear that once a party comes to power, it would lure MLAs from the Opposition over to its side.

Political parties seem to be convinced that value-based politics cannot bring them to power. It appears that based on this principle, Amit Shah and PM Modi went ahead with their strategy of bringing BJP to power in Karnataka. The more one looks at the picture in the southern state, the more one tends to feel that the distinction between democratic principles and undemocratic methods of coming to power, is getting blurred.