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A durable alliance?

A durable alliance?
After resignation of BJP Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa before the floor test on Saturday, the Karnataka Governor has invited JD(S) state chief HD Kumaraswamy to be sown in as the new Chief Minister and prove his majority in 15 days. Kumaraswamy is expected to take the oath on May 23 and move the confidence motion in the state Assembly on May 24. Congress which has lent an unconditional support to JD(S) will be part of the coalition government in which state Congress president G Parameshwara is likely to become the Deputy Chief Minister and retain the charge of the Home Ministry. Kumaraswamy will also to meet Sonia and Rahul Gandhi on May 21 and finalise the list of ministers of the new government. JD(S) and Congress fought the recently-concluded Assembly elections separately and the two parties joined hands only after the election results threw up a hung Assembly where none had a clear majority. Though JD(S) and Congress have come together to form the government, the two parties have little in common as far as ideology or vision for the state is concerned. JD(S) did not bring out a manifesto and it never articulated the policies and programmes that it intends to implement in the state. While Congress did come out with its manifesto for the election, as a junior partner of the government it may not push its agenda. The only intention that JD(S) had during the election was to come to power and spread its area of influence in the state. Now that the party is going to form the government and have Congress as its coalition partner, it will have to do a lot of balancing to keep the government going. Initially, there may not seem many problems for the Kumaraswamy government but in the course of running his government, he may face demands from JD(S) and Congress MLAs which may not have easy answers. Because it has only 37 MLAs, JD(S) will have to be wary of defection by some members who may end up supporting BJP's Yeddyurappa. Same can happen with Congress also, some of whose MLAs can decide to support the formation of a BJP government at a later stage. So, besides running the day-to-day affairs of the government, the JD (S) and Congress leadership will have to keep an eye on their MLAs lest they change their loyalty. For now, however, Congress has won its biggest victory in recent times by removing BJP from power. On the advice of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, Kumaraswamy has invited prominent opposition leaders to his oath-taking ceremony on May 23. Mamata Banerjee, Chandrababu Naidu, K Chandrasekhar Rao and Mayawati have sent congratulatory messages to him on receiving the Governor's invite to form the government. These opposition leaders are also leading the opposition initiative to work out a common strategy against BJP ahead of Lok Sabha polls mid-next year. Kumaraswamy in all likelihood will join the opposition bandwagon and raise the opposition's chorus against Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre. In Karnataka, BJP's victory march may not have stopped as it has emerged as the single largest party, eight short of the majority mark, its government formation spree has certainly been put on hold. A major credit for this goes to the Supreme Court, which curtailed the time given to Yeddyurappa to prove his majority on the floor of the house. While Governor Vajubhai Vala had given him 15 days time, the SC reduced it down to 24 hours. After BJP has been kept out of power by a resilient Congress-JD (S) combine in Karnataka, now all eyes are set on forthcoming Assembly polls in BJP-ruled Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh later this year. As is clear from the Karnataka polls, while Modi magic may still be working with the voters, there is clearly no BJP wave in the country. On the contrary, in the three BJP-ruled states that are going to polls next, the party may have to face an anti-incumbency wave. In a way, the spectacular success that the party has had in the Assembly elections so far will now give way to more fiercely contested elections, where the true popularity of BJP will be put on the test. The Karnataka experiment of opposition parties joining hands before and after the elections will further come into play when similar government formation exercise is taken up in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. In order to beat the opposition, BJP will have to rework its strategy and seek new alliances in the three poll-bound states. It can take a leaf from the Congress' book and be ready with a swift give and take approach.
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