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Power play: on Karnataka political crisis

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With two MLAs of the Congress resigning from the Karnataka Assembly, it is clear that horse-trading to pull down the State government is under way. The BJP is not just waiting in the wings; it is actively trying to reenact ( bring (a law) into effect again when the original statute has been repealed or has expired ; act out ) a script it has perfected over a decade and more. The resignations of Vijayanagar MLA Anand Singh and Gokak MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi can only be seen as a replay of a strategy the BJP used earlier, luring ( tempt (a person or animal) to do something or to go somewhere, especially by offering some form of reward ; seduce ; attract ) Opposition MLAs to resign from the Assembly, thereby forcing by-elections.

The BJP’s confidence in winning the by-polls stems from its spectacular showing in the Lok Sabha election. The party is yet to reconcile ( restore friendly relations between ) itself to the role of the Opposition after having emerged as the single largest party in the May 2018 Assembly election. At 105 seats in the 224-strong House, it was eight short of a simple majority and began plans to manoeuvre ( a carefully planned or cunning scheme or action ) its way to power. The BJP appears to be convinced that the time is ripe for a strike, both because of its success in the parliamentary election and the disenchantment ( a feeling of disappointment about someone or something you previously respected or admired; disillusionment ; dissatisfaction )  in the Congress over the alliance with the JD(S).

If enough number of coalition ( Union ; Partnership ) MLAs resign, the BJP could claim a majority with its present strength in an Assembly of reduced strength, and by-polls could follow. The Congress-JD(S) coalition could be facing a stormy ( full of angry or violent outbursts of feeling ) Assembly session, scheduled to begin on July 12.A Karnataka model had come to inspire non-BJP parties nationally after the formation of the coalition government. The Congress decision to concede ( admit or agree that something is true after first denying or resisting it ; surrender ) the Chief Minister’s position to junior partner JD(S) in order to prevent it from joining hands with the BJP was remarkable.

But it was also remarkable for its opportunism. Instability is inherent in coalitions led by smaller partners, but the present contradictions ( opposite ) in the Congress in Karnataka, the only southern State where the party is face-to-face with the BJP, have another dimension. Legislators yearning for positions of power is nothing unusual, but they usually think twice before crossing over to a different party. The skills of leaders and claims of a larger purpose, howsoever meagre ( lacking in quantity or quality )  those may be, are factors that hold together vastly divergent ( tending to be different or develop in different directions )  ambitions within a political party. The Congress is lacking in these aspects and is paying a heavy price. If power is the only glue, it is natural that legislators who are denied ministerial berths would rebel ( disobey ; oppose).

The party still enjoys significant public support in Karnataka, as was demonstrated in the local body elections weeks after its rout ( a disorderly retreat of defeated troops )  in the Lok Sabha election. The Congress cannot lend itself to brazen ( bold and without shame ) business and rent-seeking rivalries ( competition ; competition for the same objective or for superiority in the same field ) that overshadow politics in Karnataka. If the party and its coalition survive the current turmoil ( a state of great disturbance, confusion, or uncertainty ) it will still be only a hiatus ( a pause or break in continuity in a sequence or activity). Their long-term survival will be even more challenging, requiring an ideological reorientation and commitment to addressing the people’s larger livelihood concerns.

About the author

Vignesh

Vignesh Sathyan is the Founder of Day Today GK, a portal that helps Aspirants who are preparing for Competitive Exams.

You can reach him at sathyan@daytodaygk.com

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