Yesterday, the political drama in the state of Karnataka finally came to an end as the Congress-JD (S) coalition collapsed after weeks of turmoil. The HD Kumaraswamy led Congress-JDS government lost the trust vote, garnering merely 99 votes as compared to 105 votes of the BJP. With this, the controversial tenure of Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy also came to an end. His tenure which lasted for a little more than one year was hit by several controversies as he sluggishly steered the Congress-JDS alliance.
In the last one year, Kumaraswamy emerged as a weak and indecisive leader. His tenure was truly reminiscent of the coalition era when governance suffered the compulsions of coalition. Early into his tenure last year, Kumaraswamy had made it clear that his loyalty lied with the Congress and not the people of the state. He had said that he was “indebted” to the Congress and not to the people of Karnataka. He had said, “I am not indebted to the six and a half crore people of the state. I am indebted to the Congress. I appeal to the farmers to give me one week’s time. Nobody should commit suicide. In case I fail to waive crop loans, then I will resign as chief minister voluntarily. I don’t want anybody pressuring me to resign from my post.” It was probably for the first time that the chief minister of a state openly suggested that he was not indebted towards the people of the state but towards the coalition partner. This was enough to give a hint into what the rest of the tenure was going to be like.
Kumaraswamy’s vulnerability was exposed time and again. In the month of July last year, he broke down into tears at a public event expressing deep discontentment towards his coalition with the Congress. A teary-eyed HD Kumaraswamy stated, “All of you are happy because your elder or younger brother has become the chief minister. But I am not happy. I am swallowing my own pain like poison, like Vishakantha (Lord Shiva, who drank poison to save the world).’’ This year, Kumaraswamy reportedly broke down once again during JD (S) legislature party meeting on January 8. According to media reports, Kumaraswamy had said that he was tolerating harassment from senior Congress leaders keeping the state and party’s interest in mind.
Kumaraswamy has not been able to finish on a high when it comes to administration and governance either. The agrarian crisis and farmer suicides remained the centre of controversy during his tenure. By the month of December last year itself, 250 farmers had committed suicide ever since the Kumaraswamy government had come to power in June that year. This was a rather high farmer suicide rate and the coalition government seemed clueless about how to tackle the dire situation. The agrarian crisis reached such a level that a 44-year old farmer in Mandya committed suicide in November last year and blamed the Kumaraswamy led government in his suicide note.
From his ineffective style of administration and repeated meltdowns, it is clear that HD Kumaraswamy never enjoyed a comfortable situation during his tenure. However, the question which then arises is why he continued to be in power for so long, if the coalition had rendered him weak and indecisive. It was probably only because of his megalomania that he remained in an alliance with the Congress and continued to hold the top post despite knowing that it was not possible for him to function effectively and deliver good governance. Throughout his short tenure, he seemed more engrossed in nurturing the coalition rather than serving the people of Karnataka, and shall undoubtedly be remembered as one of the most inefficient chief ministers the state has ever had. In the end, the victims of this political chaos were the people of Karnataka.