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Congress must not go BJP way in Karnataka. Wait for the Brutus to strike

If Congress gets trapped into playing the same ‘game of thrones', it will lose and hurt its already declining credibility even more.

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Karnataka’s new chief minister and BJP’s state president B.S. Yediyurappa had been brazen about being able to form the government in the state all along — as far back as in March. After having taken oath as the chief minister Friday, Yediyurappa, with a new spelling if not a new name, will also likely form the BJP-led government Monday after the trust vote in the assembly. 

The 13 Congress and three JD(S) legislators, along with two Independents, that the BJP managed to bring on its side — how, it’s anybody’s guess — were going to help the saffron party form the government when they had resigned earlier this month. And they are going to do so even now, when they stand disqualified by Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar.

What does it mean? Is Karnataka going to be a template for brazen auctioning of legislators? And should we outsource the auctioning in that case?

Congress’ next move

Before we figure out whether our legislators can be auctioned in, say, Sotheby’s or not, it would be of some use to explore where our ‘internal’ system of trade stands. Will, or rather should, the Congress counter the BJP strategy through a ‘buy back’ approach? 

Also read: Yediyurappa seen sailing through Karnataka trust vote but Speaker could delay celebration

The 17 MLAs’ disqualification ends any possibility of their turnaround benefitting the Congress. So, unless the Congress can show that it is in the power game with sizeable stakes, it will not be able to influence the lawmakers’ “democratic” behaviour. It is a straight forward ‘Pavlovian conditioning” strategy, in which the crumbs will come only after the bell has been rung. But for that experiment too, Russian physiologist needed his salivating dog. The point is that the Congress cannot be helped. 

Yet, one cannot completely rule out other behavioural games. Rivalries within the BJP — further inflamed by jealousies, hatred, and ambitions — can come into play and benefit help the Congress. These characteristics can break any monolith. There are at all times, in all ruling parties, Brutus-like characters sharpening their knives. Usually, they make swift, sudden moves. Who knows, some Kannadiga Brutus is hiding behind the curtains.

What history tells us 

Not long ago, our own vintage Brutus, the veritable Charan Singh, withdrew support to Morarji Desai in 1979. Desai had a solid majority in the Janata Party-led government, but Charan Singh wanted to become the prime minister. That was his lifelong ambition. So he took support of the Congress, which then had far too few seats in the Lok Sabha, not enough to topple Morarji Desai’s government. 

Of all the parties and personalities, Charan Singh’s Sancho Panza, Raj Narain, struck a deal with Indira Gandhi, until then arch-enemy of the Janata Party. The stable and strong Janata government collapsed, forcing a mid-term election, which brought back Indira Gandhi with a thumping majority the following year. 

Also read: B.S. Yediyurappa, the God-fearing, astrology-believing leader who’s rewriting rules in BJP

Yediyurappa’s rivals

It is quite openly said in Karnataka’s capital city, Bengaluru, that B.S. Yediyurappa has a few ambitious rivals. Some of them blessed by no less than party president Amit Shah himself. They carry the potential of playing the role of Kannada Brutus. Karnataka, historically, has had a rich theatre culture; Shakespeare could well have taken a few ideas from here while writing Julius Caesar.

The difference between 1979 and 2019, however, is that Indira Gandhi then had Sanjay Gandhi to help her ace the battle. The Congress has no one today who can play the roulette and win. But that also does not mean that the ambitious rivals with competing money bags will not write their own parallel script. The Congress can benefit, if at all, in that scenario without itself doing anything. That can happen without taking any ‘predatory’ support from any of its leaders.

Unfortunately, Indian politics has been reduced only to this type of legislative “kabaddi”. The NDA, or the BJP for that matter, has not given a clear vision of their politics. They play the same “welfarist” tune and practice neo-liberalism. This has angered the true “neo-liberals”. When they cannot announce any genuine structural reform, the party allows its affiliates to run amok with lynchings and ‘love jihad’.

Modi’s ‘new’ India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has so far grandiosely spoken about the so-called “New India”. But the radical Hindutva followers believe Modi’s ‘New India’ means a Hindu Rashtra. On the other hand, the followers of Jagdish Bhagwati are advocating denationalisation of banks, selling off the profit-making public sector units, and implementing the proposed labour reforms.

Also read: Modi and Shah have been challenged for the first time — by Yediyurappa, of all people

As a result, the central government is virtually paralysed. The finance secretary (Subhash Chandra Garg) has had to put in his papers, opting for voluntary retirement a full year before the end of his service. BJP MPs (including some ministers of the NDA) say in hush-hush tones that since there is no clear roadmap, they depend on the party high command, which effectively means Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.

The so-called ‘five trillion dollar economy’ cannot be an agenda or a dream or the vision for a ‘New India’ But the so-called “influential” media has not insisted on precisely explaining to the masses the programmes that will be undertaken in this ‘New India’. It cannot be crafted with fake figures and demagogic slogans. Nor can it be achieved by deploying Karnataka-style trickery or by making India “Congress-mukt”. 

If the Congress gets trapped into playing the same “game of thrones”, then it will lose this too, and hurt itself more badly at a time when its credibility is already on a decline. If the Congress really believes in the philosophy of love and compassion, as pronounced by Rahul Gandhi, and wants to pursue the ethical approach and practice moral politics, then it must eschew the so-called “art of the possible” and the populist theory that “everything is sanctioned in war and love”. If it does not practice what it preaches, then even without Narendra Modi, there would be a “Congress-mukt Bharat.

The author is a former editor and Congress member of Rajya Sabha. Views are personal.

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  1. How do u successfully prove that ur a mouthpiece of the Congress… please spare we public from ur logicless n biased articles…🙏🙏

  2. The writer is extremely optimistic when he suggests a possibility that Congress will practice the “Love and Compassion” that Rahul preaches ( very insincerely, one suspects), and refrains from playing the Game of Thrones that, from what HE writes, ONLY the BJP does. The writer’s bias against the BJP is too well known to merit any comment. But it is the ‘hope’ that Congress will be ‘saintly’ in its own ambitions that is laughable, given the Congress’ own record. Few harbour any illusions about the Congress as the writer does.

  3. Congress must elect a leader who can lead. Rahul has resigned – and there is no succession plan. It is a party without head. Tails are wagging.
    a k pattabiraman chennai

  4. Shri Kumar Ketkar, the hagiographer of the Nehru dynasty, should know that what the middle aged dynast says about love and compassion is strictly for the gullible and for sychophants. Shri Ketkar should be advised to go by actions and not words. Does he have to be reminded of the wink that followed the hug?

  5. If this narration is to support Award wapsi gang and those national dis-integrators, I am sorry, it fails in its narration. There are certain facts. Modi do not want to be seen painted in bad color. And he does this to keep his image clean and nothing wrong about. If you think, this is called fear, so be it with your opinion. At least he fears for some thing good for the country, unlike people who does everything wrong and still try to justify their acts. On another note: Any leader to be in prominence need to keep his image clean. No matter how his party colleagues behave. For every act of someone, you cannot use Modi as your punching bag.

  6. Con_ress election manifesto-
    Eat in Indira canteen and get ₹100 per meal .
    Become unemployed and get ₹1 lac per month.
    Free car for all and ₹1 lac per month for maintenance.
    Farmers to get ₹ 3 lac per month and minimum support price for crops ₹1 lac per kg.
    Free healthcare for all in Mayo clinic USA.
    free AC for all.
    Free 3bhk flats for all.
    Government employees salary ₹5 lac per month.
    Businessmen and industrialists to be jailed.
    ₹ 10 lac for each childbirth.
    Abolition of traffic rules.
    Free air travel for all.
    Sonia mata PM. Rahul baba FM

    • Congress was bad that’s why it was wiped out in two successive elections. Let’s talk of BJP. No income or expenditure figures in the budget. Silent on at least 1.7 lakh crore shortfall. Hiding fiscal deficit of at least 5.2%. Denigrating congress is not going to make this a better country. Questioning the gov’t would. Economy is in a mess. You listed 14 points about the congress. List 14 achievements of the bjp.

  7. Congress CMs are an endangered species. They should be advised to save their thrones at all costs. As far as the revival of the party is concerned, that will take time. While waiting for anti incumbency to build up, the party should first resolve the issue of its leadership. And please can this love and compassion talk. Realpolitik is for grown ups.

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