Is Karnataka heading towards President’s Rule?

The ground is being prepared to ensure that MLAs from Cong or JD(S) abstain or walk over to BJP and, failing which, conditions created in the Assembly tomorrow to justify President’s Rule in Karnataka


Valay Singhrai

Even before polling for the Karnataka Assembly, BS Yeddyurappa had predicted confidently that he would be taking the oath as Chief Minister on May 17. He did.

And despite the Supreme Court turning down his plea for holding the floor test after a week or at least till Monday, he appeared supremely confident that he had majority support and that he would prove his majority on the floor of the Assembly on Saturday.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has powerful backers like the Reddy brothers in Karnataka and the central government in New Delhi, is clearly trying very hard to win tomorrow’s trust vote in the Assembly.

There are two options before the BJP to form the government. It can try and bring down the halfway mark to 104 or 105 by ‘managing’ enough abstentions from the JD(S) and the Congress; or it can try and woo at least seven MLAs over to its side, so it can reach the magic number of 112 in an Assembly of 224 seats.

There are also clear indications that if all attempts fail, the state would be brought under a spell of President’s Rule and a fresh election for the Assembly held along with the general election.

If the BJP does manage to form the government, it will be able to boast that it deserved to be the ruling party after emerging as the single-largest party in the Assembly. In the event that they are not able to do so, the party can continue to target the Congress and JD(S) for being opportunistic and purveyors of ‘immoral’ and ‘unprincipled’ politics.

On the day the Karnataka results were announced, the BJP had garnered a lot of sympathy because despite being the largest single party, they were just eight seats short of the majority. The sympathy among a large section of the people was bolstered by the coming together of former foes - the JD(S) and the Congress - after the results.

But instead of letting events take their own course, which meant the Governor Vajubhai Vala inviting the JD(S) and the Congress to form the government as they had more MLAs (117) than required to stake claim, the BJP’s top leadership decided to steamroll its way. The Governor, a former RSS Pracharak who once vacated his own MLA seat for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, quickly obliged by giving Yeddyurappa two weeks to form the government.

But even before the Governor could take the dubious and inadvisable decision, the post-election speeches of BJP president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi played up their excellent seat tally, as an ‘unprecedented triumph’ and thanked the people of Karnataka for ‘getting rid of Congress’. Prime Minister Modi also emphasised that the results proved that BJP was not a party composed of Hindi speakers, and was in fact a pan-India party.

Perhaps the Prime Minister got carried away and was getting too ahead of himself. He should have remembered that far from being free of the ‘virus of Congress’, Karnataka’s electorate had given Congress more votes than the BJP. Congress’s vote share at 38% was nearly two per cent more than the BJP’s (36.2%) and If one added the 18.5% vote share of the JD(S), the combined vote-share of the two parties accounted for over 56.4% of the votes polled.

Now following the apex court’s intervention, it is clear that the BJP will have to expedite its ‘poaching operations’ at breakneck speed.

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