Opposition in unity
The oath-taking ceremony of HD Kumaraswamy on Wednesday witnessed the participation of a galaxy of opposition leaders at Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru. The JD(S) Chief Minister will now seek a vote of confidence in the Karnataka legislature on Thursday and after winning the trust vote, it will name the 34 ministers, 22 from Congress and 12 from JD(S), who will form a new Cabinet. The names of Congress ministers were finalised in consultation with Congress president Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi on Monday. Kumaraswamy admitted that running a coalition government for five years is a tough challenge and that he would make a sincere effort to fulfil his role as the leader of the coalition government. BJP has boycotted the oath-taking ceremony and observed a 'black day' on Wednesday against the formation of Congress-JD(S) government. The party has dubbed the Congress-JD(S) as an unholy alliance driven by greed and power. Earlier, BJP legislature party leader BS Yeddyurappa had said that the alliance between Congress and JD(S) is an unnatural one and it will collapse due to its inherent weakness. He also said that he was sure that he would make a comeback. But ignoring the pressure on his government formation efforts, Kumaraswamy invited a host of top opposition leaders from across the country to his oath-taking ceremony and the opposition leaders obliged in unity. Apart from Congress President Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Leader of opposition in Bihar Assembly and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav attended Kumaraswamy's oath-taking ceremony. The coming together of the entire opposition at the Kumaraswamy's oath-taking ceremony signals to the fast-changing dynamics in national politics. While there were only three parties in the fray in Karnataka election, the entire opposition had its eyes set on the poll outcome. BJP, which remained 8 members short of winning a majority, was initially confident of mustering additional support, especially when the party was given 15 days' time by the Governor to prove its majority. But when the SC asked it to prove its majority within 24 hours, its leader BS Yeddyurappa resigned before the floor test, realising the fact that his party cannot manage the additional support required to win the confidence of the House. The Congress-JD(S) combine which managed to keep its flock together was then invited by the Governor to form the government. When the Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala invited BJP to form the government after the May 15 results which threw up a hung Assembly, Congress demanded that it should be given opportunity to form governments in Goa, Manipur, and Meghalaya where the party has emerged as the single largest party. In these three states, BJP has formed the government despite winning less number of seats than Congress by forging an alliance with local parties. The Governors in these three states recognised the BJP-led alliance as the single largest bloc in the respective legislatures and invited them to form the government. Through its agitation, Congress was able to convey the fact that irrespective of the poll results, BJP has been 'stealing governments' through the connivance of the Centre-appointed Governors.
Kumaraswamy's oath-taking ceremony acted as the perfect platform for regional leaders to show their intention that they are willing to come together in their fight against BJP. The idea of forming a federal alliance of regional parties ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election is slowing taking shape with leaders of various regional parties using the Kumaraswamy's oath-taking ceremony to show up and reignite the talk on opposition's unity. Together, the opposition parties claim to represent the Dalits and minorities apart from their traditional support base. If the opposition could consolidate their support base and ensure that their votes are not divided, they can take on BJP successfully. The presence of Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav at the opposition's spectacular show of strength in Bengaluru is of special significance. The two leaders set aside decades of animosity between their parties ahead of the Gorakhpur and Phulpur byelection in March this year. Going by the caste arithmetics, Mayawati offered her party's support to Samajwadi Party candidates in the byelection, leading to the victory of the SP candidates. At a time when there is no strong wave in favour of BJP in the country, if opposition parties remain united and take informed and judicious decisions about ticket distribution, they can surely put BJP in a difficult spot. However, Kumaraswamy's oath-taking ceremony will be remembered as the occasion that brought the entire spectrum of opposition parties on a single dais.