, by PROF. M.A. HAQUE
The curtains finally came down on the first ever government in Karnataka led by BJP’s B.S. Yeddyurappa barely after a week of its swearing in on November 12. The high voltage drama unfolded itself on November 19 when the government was to prove its majority on the floor of the House. While governments are toppled by the opposition parties, the distinction of achieving this feat in this case goes to the Janata Dal (S), the coalition partner in the ruling alliance. J D (S) did a U-turn under the direction of HD Deve Gowda, father of JD (S) leader in the Legislature Assembly H.D Kumaraswamy on the pretext of B.J.P not fulfilling certain demands of J D (S).
CAUSE OF RIFT
The JD (S) kept insisting on formal signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the basis of 12 conditions imposed by H.D Deve Gowda for supporting the government. Absence of Deve Gowda during the swearing in ceremony appeared to be unusual but most of the people never suspected the abrupt end of the honeymoon of the two parties which lacked the union of hearts, meeting of souls or similarity of the views. It appears in retrospect as a coming together of strangers becoming bed- fellows for the lust of power, and sharing of loaves and fishes of the office. Earlier Government used to be the means of serving people but now it has become a source of personal gains. What a disgrace!
GENESIS OF THE PROBLEM
The JD (S) had helped the BJP in Karnataka by affording it an opportunity by bringing down Congress Government thus paving the way for BJP’s entry into Government in a southern state for the first time in the country’s history. The BJP wanted to widen its base by stretching its lags in the South in the fond hope that it will give it the needed semblance of the national party as it was considered to be party of the North. The vested interests of the two parties saw Kumaraswamy become Chief Minister of Karnataka in February 2006. The first incarnation of the coalition Government was actualised on the understanding that 40 month’s period before the expiry of the Assembly term would be shared between them equally. Under the agreed arrangement Kumaraswamy was to become Chief Minister during the first half to be followed by BJP’s C. M. Accordingly Kumaraswamy became Chief Minister but as per agreement, he was to relinquish the office in favour of BJP’ s nominee on 3rd October 2007. But before the end of his term, he put certain conditions knowing fully well they would not be met by BJP. These delaying tactics saw many twists and turns, culminating in imposition of President’s rule in the State. Meanwhile BJP had to face harsh comments by JD (S) and was labelled “communal”. H D Deve Gowda and his son hobnobbed with Congress to secure its support to form a new govt. When JD (S) was faced with the danger of break-up of the party due to defection of its MLA’s who wished to continue to enjoy power, it again patched up with BJP and gave its unconditional support to it to form and lead the Government. This was conveyed to the Governor who then invited Yeddyurappa to form the government. The President’s rule lasted for a mere 34 days during which the Assembly was kept under animated suspension. There had been many occasions when both parties and the Congress also asked for dissolution of the Assembly to be followed by fresh elections to put an end to the politics of “Aya Rams” and “Gaya Rams” which tarnishes the fair name of forward looking Karnataka.
ROLE OF J D (S)
This party has notched an infamous record of betrayals and U-turns in political alignments. First it pulled out of the coalition government with the Congress, ditching it in favour of diametrically opposite right wing BJP. Then at formed a coalition government with BJP and reaped a rich political harvest for 20 long months. Up to the fag end of this period it never found BJP to be “communal”. But when the tenure of its Chief Minister was coming to an end, suddenly it downed on it that BJP was “Communal”. Therefore it refused to support BJP and came out of the coalition of the convenience. Then under the allurement of benefits of remaining in Govt. it did a somersault and offered unconditional support to BJP for ministry formation. Then on 19th November, it again changed its mind and did not come forward with its support on the floor of the House resulting in resignation of the Government and reimposition of the President’s rule. Deve Gowda has made himself an object of ridicule and worst example of political expediency. Having been Prime Minister of India for some period, he ought to have given a better account of himself. On the other hand the BJP also not covered itself with glory. It has earned notoriety for its greed of power. Its lust for power forced it to throw to winds all its tall claims of being a “party with difference”. Do these political parties feel they can befool all people for all times in all manners?
REAL CAUSE OF BREAK-UP
On 18th November afternoon, Yeddyurappa and Kumaraswamy discussed the formalities of the J D (S) support to the BJP but failed to make any progress. Informed sources say that the bone of contention was the JD (S) demand for control of the Bellary mining sector and keeping out key BJP leaders linked to the mining sector from the government giving the JD (S) a crucial role and say in transfers and postings of government officers (often called an industry for minting money), and control of the much-sought-after urban development portfolio (the proverbial hen giving eggs of gold). The powerful BJP faction from Bellary could not bear with prospect of losing this golden opportunity of improving their fortunes. It is well- known that many people join politics bidding “good bye” to their lucrative business, money-spinning successful professional careers and high government posts as even one term as a minister leads to acquisition of far greater assets than a lifelong hard work and in non-political fields.
The fact is that unprincipled combinations made by political parties in furtherance of their unholy objective of capturing power lead us to watch such shocking and stunning situations. By and large running a government is now presumed to be an act akin to distribution of booty behind the bush. However, there is some difference; whereas booty is distributed fairly and honestly, the loot of the government money and state’s resources is sought to be done stealthily and in an inequitable manner. Media should be given the credit for exposing unholy alliances and behind-the-wall dealings. Now that the era of coalition governments has arrived and is going to stay, political parties must give a serious thought to principled approach. They must exhibit a certain degree of decency in their conduct by not making pursuit of power the only objective. They must ponder where they are leading the country to. They must never forget that they have a commitment to the electorate also. Moreover the public must pay back irresponsible politicians and unprincipled political parties in their own coin. James Freeman Clark’s considered opinion is that “A politician thinks of the next election, a statesman, of the next generation”. But truer is the assessment that “The difference is that a statesman thinks he belongs to the state, and a politician thinks the state belongs to him”.
It is a pity that Karnataka, which had been an economically better-performing state, today finds itself in such an unenviable position in which administration is paralysed, public is cheated and the state government is stagnant.