The Bharatiya Janata Party has taken a huge gamble by staking claim to form government in Karnataka, with no robust numbers on its side.
Bengaluru: The moment the 14-month-old tottering HD Kumaraswamy government fell, everyone kind of felt that the BJP would go for the jugular and make a claim to form the government.
And at the moment of writing, BS Yeddyurappa has got the go-ahead from Amit Shah, and has indeed staked a claim to form a BJP government in Karnataka after meeting Governor Vajubhai Vala. The swearing-in ceremony is fixed for 6 p.m. this evening.
After two days of lull since the fall of JD(S)-Congress government, Thursday (July 25) was a day of flux. First, Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar, in a surprise and contentious move, disqualified 3 of the rebel MLAs.
As they say, the devil is in the detail --- all the 3 are reportedly ministerial aspirants in the putative BJP government. The disqualified legislators are: Ramesh Jarkiholi and Mahesh Kumathahalli of the Congress, and independent legislator R Shankar, who pulled out of the coalition government and pledged support for the BJP.
The three cannot contest elections till the state assembly is dissolved, the Speaker said.
The Speaker's decision was unexpected and is sure to be challenged in the court.
But what was equally unexpected was Yediyurappa setting out to meet the Governor and making bold to form the government. The formality of the BJP's legislature party meeting and then electing him as the leader were given a go by. This kind of speed surprised many, and nobody is sure why the BJP is taking this path.
Perhaps, the party wants to pre-empt whatever stratagem the Speaker resorts to.
But the confidence with which the BJP has gone about this task would suggest that it is not fearing a repeat of last year's trust vote when ‘Yeddy’ had to resign unable to conjure up the requisite numbers to triumph in the trust vote. ‘Yeddy’ has never headed a government that has lasted a full-term.
So he would be hoping to break that hoodoo.
The BJP, as a unit and a combined team, has been shepherded by the efforts of Yediyurappa. The Lingayat leader has been a major force in keeping the BJP house in order in the state. And his agreeable quiet, middle-class approach can be argued to have endeared him to the masses.
But he has his task cut out. What kind of demands that the rebel MLAs put would be interesting to watch. How much the rebel MLAs' wishes would be met would also be a point to note. If the BJP yields to their requests it may not have much to oblige its own members.
Already, there is some heartburn in Goa where there is a controversy that the MLAs who have come from outside have been given 'plum posts' looking over the claims of long-standing insiders.
Also, how trustworthy are the 'outsiders' must be another of BJP's concern. The party must have felt chastened with what has transpired in Madhya Pradesh. Two former Congress members who were accepted by the BJP now seem to show allegiance to Kamal Nath and his team. This has proven to be a major embarrassment for the BJP, especially at a time when it was trying to pull the rug from under the feet of Kamal Nath.
The Congress and the JD (S) would be thirsting for such similar revenge. And in the situation obtaining in Karnataka, legislators seem tradeable commodity.
A lot still depends on what the Speaker decides to on the status of the remaining rebel MLAs. The Speaker would like to keep things in suspended animation thereby keeping the BJP guessing. The JD(S) and the Congress would want to use the Speaker as their trump card and try to create nuisance.
The BJP deciding to not go for a snap poll may be for political reasons. The party may not have been ready for another long-drawn election after a taxing general polls. In that sense, it may be sensible. But unless the BJP can summon the numbers to see through the confidence motion on the floor of the Assembly, as and when it happens, and gets down to the actual task of governance, there will be plenty of tension in its camp.
The BJP has taken a huge gamble for sure. But in this season of victories for it, it would not be low on confidence.
Last Updated 4:45 PM IST