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Kumaraswamy govt in danger?

Kumaraswamy govt in danger?

Barely a month after the formation of Congress-JD(S) coalition government in Karnataka, political circles are abuzz with speculation that the newly-formed government is on the rocks and it could be toppled before Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy presents the budget on July 5. At the core of the problem is a section of disgruntled Congress MLAs who are reportedly ready to help the BJP form the government. The speculation of Kumaraswamy government being in troubled was further stoked by B S Yeddyurappa's sudden trip to Ahmedabad to meet party chief Amit Shah. Some of the disgruntled Congress MLAs are believed to be encouraged by former Congress Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who in the recent past had ridiculed Kumaraswamy on farmers' loan waiver issue. Rattled by constant threat to his government, Kumaraswamy hit back saying he is not at the mercy of anybody and that he has not got the Chief Minister's chair in alms. Clearly, the new government is showing signs of frustration and the opposition camp is upbeat about it. After the Assembly elections in Karnataka threw up a fractured mandate last month, BJP which emerged as the single largest party was asked by Governor Vajubhai Vala to form the government and prove his majority in the Assembly within 15 days. But Congress moved the Supreme Court against the Governor's decision and the Supreme Court ruled that Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa should prove his majority within 24 hours. He was pinning hopes on some of the Congress and JD(S) MLAs for support to his government. But both the parties made special arrangements to ensure that BJP leaders are not able to approach them. For this, they took their MLAs to a resort and kept them together till the vote of confidence in the Assembly. JD(S) had sent their MLAs to Hyderabad as it did not have faith in the protection given by the state police. At one point, even the Supreme Court directed the state police to provide adequate security to the newly-elected MLAs in the backdrop of a constant threat of poaching from BJP. All these measures saw it that BJP could not garner additional support and just before the vote of confidence, B S Yeddyurappa resigned.

After the virulent show of unity and combativeness, Congress-JD(S) combine was invited by the Governor to form the government and prove its majority, which it did, with JD(S) leader Kumaraswamy becoming Chief Minister. There was no pre-poll alliance between the two parties and they forged the alliance with the sole objective to stop BJP from ruling the state. Despite having only 37 members in the house as against 78 of Congress, JD(S) occupied the driving seat. The alliance has some inherent contradictions such as the party that represents only a small fraction of the people and the geography is in charge of the entire government while those who represent a larger section of the people and the territory is left with either no or little say. Though the government is headed by a JD(S) representative, the number of Congress ministers is more than those of JD(S). For obvious reasons, Kumaraswamy has to give more time to Congress MLAs and ministers than those from his own party. If he does not do so, Congress MLAs would be dissatisfied and if does so, he will be harming his own party. Clearly, Kumaraswamy is caught in a dilemma that only his exit can solve. The seat tally in the Karnataka Assembly is such that Congress has to remain in alliance with JD(S) if it wants to remain in power or stop BJP from coming to power. But keeping the MLAs together even as the dissatisfaction is growing among them is a huge challenge for both Congress and JD(S). BJP which is short of just eight members from the majority is sure that the discontent in the Congress-JD(S) alliance will only grow in the coming days, making it easy for the party to lure the required number of MLAs from Congress and JD(S). However, BJP does not seem to be in any haste and that is possibly the reason why B S Yeddyurappa has so far not made any comments on the evolving situation. He has left for Ahmedabad to seek guidance from party president Amit Shah. Though politics is a game of possibilities, the growing frustration in the newly-formed alliance between JD (S) and Congress may cost the coalition government in Karnataka as being speculated by various political circles. But if it survives, it will need a lot of coordination and commitment on the part of the two alliance partners and their MLAs.

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