The results of the Karnataka assembly elections came out in mid-May in which the Bharatiya Janata Party had emerged as the single largest party. In a bid to stop the BJP from forming government in Karnataka, Congress had offered unconditional support to Janata Dal (Secular). The animosity between JDS chief H.D. Devegowda and Congress was immediately forgotten after the Karnataka verdict. Congress offered the Chief Minister seat to JDS even when they had twice the number of seats than JDS, highlighting their desperation at keeping the BJP out of power. The swearing in ceremony of H.D. Kumaraswamy as the Chief Minister was a grand affair attended by Congress and other opposition leaders to show solidarity ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. However, the united opposition gimmick seems to be falling apart in Karnataka as there has been a constant tug of war going on in the state between JDS and Congress over ministries in the state. There seems to be a deadlock over the very important portfolios such as Home, Revenue and the Public Works Department. Both the parties want these ministries and nobody is willing to step down from their demands. Rahul Gandhi has gone on a leave at this important stage, leaving the hectic power sharing job to Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Congress wants the cream portfolios for itself while JDS leaders are surprised at the demands by Congress. They had offered unconditional support to JDS and H.D. Kumaraswamy as soon as the verdict came out. JDS is now in shock considering the demands of major portfolios made by Congress. Congress leaders want to keep siphoning off public money by getting financial cabinets; their demands of a second Deputy CM post too were shot down by JDS leader and Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy. Congress had previously demanded the Home Ministry portfolio, considering it usually goes to the Deputy CM in the state; JDS had shot down this demand as well.
JDS wants to hold on to the finance and revenue posts as well in order to fulfill their promise of loan waiver to the farmers. Further, if they are not able to acquire key posts other than that of the Chief Minister, their position in the coalition would be reduced to that of a toothless tiger.
Congress has taken it upon its honour to retain key portfolios for themselves so that they can continue to plunder the state’s resources. Their unconditional support to the JDS would be meaningless if there is nothing in return for them. Both parties’ leaders realize the need to keep Home, Revenue, Finance and PWD portfolios for themselves in order to make any profit out of the state.
Rahul Gandhi supposedly has realized the importance of holding important portfolios in the state. His heightened insecurity over portfolio distribution has led him to issue a directive that all decisions regarding Karnataka will be taken after his return from abroad. Ghulam Nabi Azad and other Congress leaders meanwhile have been trying to negotiate with H.D. Devegowda to let go of a few key posts. Devegowda too has been playing games with the Congress by fielding candidates against the Congress in the two constituencies where polling was held separately. Kumaraswamy’s statement that he was willing to forego the Chief Minister’s post to keep the coalition intact becomes highly questionable following the incidents of the polls held later on. JDS leaders will keep playing mind games and so will the Congress, since the greed of their leaders knows no bounds. Karnataka and its people will suffer because of this tug of war between two parties who had hated each other for a long period of time. Even after swearing in of the Chief Minister, he is the only sworn in minister in the Karnataka government today, and important issues will be kept pending until the two parties agree to meet midway. This is Congressi style of politics, where deadlocks and bargaining go hand in hand. The hopes of a United Opposition in 2019 seem to have received a setback thanks to the selfish behavior of JDS and Congress in Karnataka.