The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Karnataka unit is looking forward to take advantage of the infighting in the ruling coalition between the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) to throw them out of power. But the prospects of that mission succeeding will largely depend on the outcome of the on-going general elections.
On April 23, Ramesh Jarkiholi, one of the rebel Congress MLAs, said that he would soon resign from the party. Following a fractured mandate, the Congress and JD(S) formed the government last year with 118 MLAs in its fold. The majority mark is 113.
Two sitting Congress MLAs, Krishna Byre Gowda and Eshwar Khandre, contested the Lok Sabha elections. Bypolls for two seats — Chincholi, from where Umesh Jadhav defected to the BJP to contest the general elections, and Kundgol, necessitated by the death of MLA CS Shivalli — are scheduled for May 19.
Both the BJP and the Congress exude confidence of winning the bypolls. If the Congress loses the bypolls and manages to retain the two Lok Sabha seats, contested by its MLAs, the coalition’s tally will go down to 114, in the event of Jarkiholi’s exit.
If the Congress emerges victorious and no other MLAs defect, the government would remain stable. But if it loses, the government will be on a shaky ground.
Sathyan Puthoor, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee secretary, asserted that the coalition in the state is stable and will remain so despite BJP’s attempt to break the alliance. “We will win the bypolls and there’s no threat to the ruling coalition. Since last year, the BJP has been pushing hard to destabilise the government. They won’t be successful and the party won’t convince Jarkiholi if he wants to leave,” he told The Federal. Puthoor’s statement was in sharp contrast to the one given by Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara who had said that the party would talk to Jarkiholi and convince him to stay.
Two others MLAs, apart from Jarkiholi and Jadhav, turned against the party last year. The Congress wrote to the Assembly speaker to disqualify them under the anti-defection law.
Meanwhile, BJP leaders hope that the electorate will punish the coalition for denying it an opportunity to govern the state. While the BJP had 106 seats in the 224-member Assembly, Congress with 80 seats gave unconditional support to JD(S), which had just 37 seats. BSP, which secured one seat, too threw its weight behind the Congress-JD(S) combine and the coalition was put in place after BS Yeddyurappa, who had formed the government on May 17, resigned on May 19 owing to his inability to cobble up the numbers.
All the leading political parties hope that the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections on May 23 will be in their favour.
Karnataka is the only southern state where the BJP is strong enough and it hopes to retain power soon after the Lok Sabha results. BJP leaders, including Yeddyurappa, did issue statements on the government’s downfall, triggered by Jarkiholi’s statement on April 23. With counting for the Lok Sabha polls less than a month away, political parties in the state are keeping their fingers crossed over what would become of their prospects.