true mandate

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 25 May 2018 11:39:16

THAT Mr. H. D. Kumaraswamy of Janata Dal (S) has been sworn in as Chief Minister of Karnataka with the support of the bigger party in the coalition, Congress, agreeing to act as a junior partner, is only a technical detail. The people, however, are fully aware that the actual mandate of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly elections was in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who won as many as 104 seats, just a few seats short of clear majority. Let alone what happened in the legal battle subsequently leading to Mr. Kumaraswamy’s elevation as Chief Minister, the spiritual reality of the situation is that the Congress lost its mandate by losing nearly half of its seats. In sharp contrast, the BJP raised its tally from 40 seats in the previous Legislature to 104, a quantum jump that shows the actual mood of the voters in Karnataka. Against this background, Mr. Kumaraswamy has become Chief Minister of a State whose voters have not favoured him and that he could ascend to the coveted position only on the strength of technical detail. The political reality of Karnataka, thus, is that there is a Government in place on a tenuous coalition while the single largest party is sitting in Opposition. 

The new Chief Minister is aware of the reality. Even before he took oath, Mr. Kumaraswamy has started on a tentative foothold. That was the reason why he said that there would be limitations to the performance under a coalition condition. He appears conscious that even though the Congress is a junior partner in the coalition, having conceded chief ministership to Janata Dal (S) with lesser numbers, its leaders are quite likely to stall smooth functioning of the Government on this or that count that could be categorised as cantankerous. In such a condition, as Mr. Kumaraswamy has admitted, there would be serious limitations bogging down a coalition Government.
Thus, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections exactly a year later, the people of Karnataka are quite likely to see a Government that is only tentative in its performance, but overly playing to the gallery to garner votes in the next big battle on the national stage. Such a situation is quite undesirable since the people in power tend to overdo the developmental factor by showering upon the people projects and schemes that only take away a lot of money but no actual benefit to anybody. When the Government slips into such a mode, then who suffers most is the common voter. In Karnataka, this will be the likely picture ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in the summer of 2019.
Though the BJP has lost in the numerical battle on the floor of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, its leadership is fully aware that the people are with it. This confidence was evident in the speech of Mr. B.S. Yeddyurappa in the Assembly. His every word demonstrated a confidence that the people’s mandate was with the BJP and that his party would win all the 28 seats in the next Lok Sabha elections. His words, thus, showed what kind of people-connect his party has achieved in Karnataka.

The same confidence was reflected in the statements of Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi (who called the Karnataka performance of his party as a very big victory and gain) and BJP national President Mr. Amit Shah who asked the Congress not to brag about a non-existent victory. “Don’t forget that you have lost the mandate and we have won it”, he asserted convincingly. This confident mindset of the collective BJP leadership explains the actual political situation in Karnataka.New Chief Minister Mr. H. D. Kumaraswamy will have to deliver in such a situation where his party is the smallest in numbers. This awkward arrangement will bring with it a lot of problems of internal management of coalition issues. Obviously, the BJP is going to gain a great lead from such a situation in near future.