Bengaluru: “Karma” triggered the collapse of H.D. Kumaraswamy’s government in Karnataka — that’s what the BJP claimed when the Congress-JD(S) coalition lost the trust vote in the assembly by 105 votes to 99.
The BJP is now all set to stake claim to form the government, with a beaming B.S. Yeddyurappa showing the victory sign to cameras ahead of what is expected to be his fourth term as Karnataka chief minister.
By bringing down Kumaraswamy’s government, Yeddyurappa has not only managed to get back the chair he lost on 19 May last year when he couldn’t prove his majority, but also sent the message that the BJP will do everything to take power in any state, even use ‘Operation Kamala’ again and again.
Yeddyurappa has worked relentlessly to bring down the Congress-JD(S) government for three major reasons — to prove it was an “unholy” alliance, to not allow the “backstabbing” Kumaraswamy to last long as CM, and also to send a message to the BJP’s own central leadership that he is the tallest and most irreplaceable leader in Karnataka.
The 2018 Karnataka assembly elections returned a split verdict — the BJP was the single largest party with 104 seats, the Congress won 80 and the JD(S) 37 in the 224-member house.
Yeddyurappa was invited to form the government but the Congress and the JD(S) joined hands to keep the BJP out of power, forcing him to resign before the trust vote on the floor of the House.
The BJP has claimed ever since that this was an “unholy alliance” — one that was forced on the people of Karnataka by going against the poll verdict.
Members of the coalition claimed their alliance was based on being “secular”, but over the 14 months of the Kumaraswamy government their constant bickering and differences of opinion were constant threats to its stability.
It was also this strained relationship that the BJP used to poach MLAs from the alliance.
Kumaraswamy and the JD(S) had once been allies of the BJP — back in 2006 when he first served as chief minister. But Yeddyurappa claimed that Kumaraswamy had stabbed him in the back twice, in 2008 and again in 2018.
Even in his emotional speech before resigning as CM last year, Yeddyurappa had spoken about how father and son (former PM H.D. Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy) did not let him become CM after enjoying their 20 months in power between 2006 and 2008. The parties had agreed to change CMs after 20 months.
“In the 20 months that Kumaraswamy was the chief minister, I supported him completely. I did not question any of his decisions. However, when it was my time to become CM, the father and son started their playing politics. Kumaraswamy claims he went against his father and regrets the alliance. He even apologises to the people. I now say it was a big crime that I supported the government in 2006,” Yeddyurappa had said in the assembly.
And yet, just before the JD(S) tied up with the Congress, there were reports that Kumaraswamy had met with BJP national president Amit Shah. It was then that former Congress president Sonia Gandhi spoke to Deve Gowda and suggested that the Congress support the JD(S) in forming the government, leading to the coalition.
“Yeddyurappa believes that it was Kumaraswamy who hatched a conspiracy to get him arrested in the infamous mining scam, which led to him spending 20 days in prison, and damaged him politically,” said Bengaluru-based political analyst Mahadev Prakash.
“Also, when Deve Gowda supported D.V. Sadananda Gowda as Karnataka CM instead of him, Yeddyurappa felt he was being made a scapegoat. This was another huge blow to him.”
Message to central leadership
Another Bengaluru-based political analyst, Bhaskar Rao, says Yeddyurappa and the Karnataka BJP wanted to show the neighbouring states of southern India just how the BJP can come to power in these states.
“Yeddyurappa was the man who opened the BJP’s account in south India. By destabilising the Kumaraswamy government, he also wanted to show the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala and Tamil Nadu that the BJP can also form its governments by poaching MLAs,” Rao said.
“Yeddyurappa has also sent out a message to the central leadership that in Karnataka, there is no other leader other than him who can dislodge the Congress.”
Sources in the BJP had told ThePrint that the party’s central leadership was in no mood to bring down the Kumaraswamy government; that it wanted the infighting to continue and let the coalition collapse on its own. The leadership was open to the option of President’s Rule, and then fresh elections in six months.
“We did not want to be seen as the ones bringing down this unholy alliance. Let them fall on their own,” a senior leader had said.
But Yeddyurappa seemed to be in a tearing hurry to prove that only his leadership would lead the BJP back to power. And after the exceptional Lok Sabha election results, where it won 25 of the 28 seats in Karnataka, the central leadership also acquiesced to moving quickly and unseating the Congress-JD(S) coalition at any cost.
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