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Cong-JD-S govt a case of can't stay together, can't live apart?

By Bibhu Ranjan Mishra
February 12, 2019 11:04 IST
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Personal differences between the two alliance partners, Congress insiders say, are owing to Kumaraswamy's style of functioning. He, unlike his father, is suspected to have a soft corner for the BJP, reports Bibhu Ranjan Mishra.

IMAGE: Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy talks with former chief minister Siddaramaiah and other leaders in the House during the first day of the Budget Session of Assembly, at Vidhan Soudha in Bengaluru. Photograph: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI Photo

The Bharatiya Janata Party's 'Operation Lotus', which is about enticing MLAs to desert the ruling alliance, has had its knock-on effect.

It has succeeded in souring the relations between the partners of the ruling coalition -- the Janata Dal-Secular and the Congress -- and this became evident when a visibly upset chief minister, H D Kumaraswamy, threatened to resign, alleging that the grand old party was not doing enough to stop its legislators from 'crossing the alliance line'.

Even H D Deve Gowda, the chief minister’s father, says he cannot keep quiet anymore.


A few Congress MLAs went public, saying the chief minister was not doing enough to stop legislators from walking over to the BJP side.

It's only after Kumaraswamy's intervention that three dissenting Congress MLAs surfaced, junking their hobnobbing with the BJP brass.

Relations deteriorated when a few Congress MLAs asked for Siddaramaiah as chief minister.

C Puttarangashetty, a Congress leader who is a minister, went to the extent of saying Siddaramaiah was his chief minister. Many junior Congressmen also expressed similar views.

All this is happening when the Lok Sabha elections are days away.

The JD-S is leaving no stone unturned to display its displeasure with the Congress. According to certain sections, the party may have started giving some sort of signals to the BJP that political equations in the state can change sooner than expected.

Kumaraswamy’s elder brother, H D Revanna, who is also a senior minister in his cabinet, is learnt to have met state BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa a couple of days ago though the meeting has been described as a courtesy call.

Despite all these, political analysts are not yet willing to buy the argument that the coalition government is on its way to collapse soon, at least not until there's clarity on who will form the next government at the Centre.

"All these will not have much effect on the stability of the government, primarily because both the parties know very well that if the alliance collapses, they will not come back to power again," said Muzaffar Assadi, professor of political science at the University of Mysore.

The second reason, he says, is that there is ideological compatibility between the two parties, meaning whatever differences are coming out are personal ones, which can be resolved.

The third and the most important factor is both these parties have a common enemy, which is the BJP.

Personal differences, Congress insiders say, are owing to Kumaraswamy's style of functioning. He, unlike his father, is suspected to have a soft corner for the BJP.

There have been instances where transfers of officials are happening at the behest of the chief minister, without keeping the ally in the loop.

In the case of the BJP, there are two adversities.

Unlike the previous Lok Saba election, there is clearly not a 'Modi wave' in play, at least in Karnataka; and being bereft of power since 2013, the morale of party workers is low.

As far as Yeddyurappa is concerned, says Assadi, "He is losing credibility and control of the party owing to his inability to carry out the 'coup' in the opposition camp".

One thing is quite clear, multiple sources in the Congress say. There has been a clear message from party president Rahul Gandhi and it has been communicated to the state leaders: "Don’t destabilise the government before the Lok Sabha elections."

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