After several days of political drama, the Congress-JD(S) coalition government which had come to power last year has finally fallen. Kumaraswamy lost the trust vote 105-99 in favor of the BJP. Ever since the reports of Congress and JD(S) MLAs tendering their resignations surfaced, it had become clear that the Karnataka government was not going to survive for very long. The coalition government had fallen into a political crisis after reports of 16 MLAs tendering their resignations had come up. It had become clear that once these resignations were accepted, the coalition government would lose its majority. The rebel MLAs skipped the trust vote after more than a week of persuasion by Congress-JD(S) to attend the trust vote.
Karnataka which had presented an interesting situation following the assembly elections in the state with post poll alliance of JD(S) and the Congress preventing the more popular BJP with a maximum number of seats (104) from forming the government. JD(S) with the least number of seats (37), riding on Congress’ desperation to remain in government, was successful in grabbing the Chief Ministers post for HD Kumaraswamy despite Congress being the major contributor to the post poll coalition with 78 seats.
This post poll coalition was seen by many being contrary to peoples mandate as the Congress and the JD(S) had fought election opposing each other ferociously. However, later on, giving in to political greed, the two had forged an alliance of convenience. Nonetheless, this alliance, which had no ideological basis, after another indication of people’s mandate in 2019 general election finally met its fate. Now as the dust settles, the single largest party in Karnataka assembly, that is, the BJP is poised to stake claim to power in the state with the majority in the assembly, BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa is expected to take on the top post in the state.
While BJP takes charge, the political stability in the state still balances on a thin line as it is still not clear as to what will happen to the rebel MLAs. News reports have pointed out the rebel MLAs would remain in Mumbai until a BJP leader is sworn in as a Chief Minister. The 15 rebels have sought 4 weeks time to appear before Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar in regarding a plea filed for their disqualification. The Speaker has so far neither acted on their resignations, nor on the Congress-JD(S) pleas to disqualify them.
In any case, the rebels MLAs would have to get re-elected through by-poll elections. For the new government will enjoy stability till the by-poll elections, the outcome of these by-polls may further strengthen BJP’s position or the results might tilt the scale in favor of the opposition, given current alliance arrangements stand.
Nonetheless, for the rebel MLAs going into by-polls, if they contest on BJP tickets they are likely poised to take benefit of BJP’s momentum form the Lok Sabha elections where the saffron party swept on 25 out of the total 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state. Resentment against the Congress-JD(S) alliance might also play in the favor of the rebelling MLAs.
As such, this is a telling blow for the Congress which is already fighting hard to survive in India’s political landscape. It seems that the Congress is unable to keep its house in order and it is on the brink of an existential crisis. There is no potent leadership at any level and the local leadership of the Congress seems uninspired. It is going to be an uphill task for the Congress to make a comeback from here. This is also going to be a shot in the arm for the BJP which has already left Congress far behind when it comes to pan-India presence and popularity.