Riding on its landslide win in the recent Lok Sabha elections at the national and state levels, an upbeat Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is waiting for the fall of the year-old JD-S-Congress coalition government in Karnataka to return to power in the southern state.
“We are in no hurry or desperate for power. We don’t have to topple the coalition government, as it will fall on its own soon due to dissidence in the Congress and serious differences between the ruling allies on several issues, including power-sharing,” BJP’s state unit spokesman G. Madhusudan said on Thursday.
The resignation of two Congress legislators Anand Singh and rebel leader Ramesh Jarkiholi on July 1 from their assembly seats has made the BJP hope for more lawmakers of the ruling ally to quit, which will reduce the fledgling government into a minority and call for a trust-vote.
In the 225-member Assembly, including one nominated, the BJP has 105, Congress 78, excluding the Speaker, JD-S 37, BSP 1, regional outfit KPJP 1 and one Independent.
With the support of the BSP, KPJP and Independent, the ruling allies have 118, which is 5 more than the halfway mark (113) for a simple majority.
“If the Speaker (K.R. Ramesh Kumar) accepts resignations of Singh and Jarkiholi and 4 more Congress members resign, then a trail of strength on the floor of the Assembly will be inevitable as the coalition government’s strength will be less than the halfway mark,” asserted Madhusudan.
Denying any role in the resignation of Singh and Jarkiholi or instigating more Congress legislators to quit, the BJP has also decided not to move trust-vote against the government in the ensuing 10-day monsoon session of the state legislature from July 12, as the numbers are not in its favour yet.
“We are not going to burn our fingers again. Though a dozen unhappy Congress MLAs approached us even earlier to join our party (BJP) after resigning and contesting the by-elections that will follow, we have told them that they were welcome but without any condition or demand,” said the spokesman.
With the ruling allies bickering over the rout in the 2019 general elections, as both won only one parliamentary seat each to retain Bangalore Rural by the Congress and Hassan by the JD-S, they both are desperate to continue the coalition government, ostensibly to keep the BJP out of power, though it is only 8 short of the halfway mark for simple majority.
The BJP won 26 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats it contested in the state and supported Independent Sumalatha Ambareesh to win the Mandya seat, about 100km southwest of Bengaluru.
A split verdict in the May 2018 assembly elections threw up a hung house, with none of the three mainstream parties having numbers to form the government of its own.
Though the Congress and JD-S fought against each other in the assembly polls, they formed a post-poll alliance and came to power on May 23, 2018 after the 3-day BJP government resigned on May 19, 2018 for want of even a simple majority in the lower House.
“We will wait for our turn to stake claim for power if the dozen rebel Congress MLAs withdraw support to the government by giving such a joint letter to the state Governor (Vajubhai Vala), who will, in turn, ask the Speaker to conduct a trust vote to assess if the ruling alliance has the majority,” said Madhusudan.
Claiming that there was no threat to the government and would complete its 5-year term, Congress spokesman Ravi Gowda said that the ruling allies were determined to stay put and thwart the BJP’s desperate attempts to wrest power from them.
“Efforts are on address the concerns of some of our legislators who are unhappy for not getting cabinet posts or becoming chairmen of boards or corporations although they are aware of the limitation in sharing them (posts) in a coalition government where they are shared with the ally (JD-S),” added Gowda.
Gowda also hastened to clarify that the Speaker did not yet accept the resignations of Singh and Jarkiholi and ruled out any more party legislator quitting ahead of the assembly session.
Meanwhile, Ruling Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda named news office-bearers to strengthen the party and revive its fortunes in Karnataka.
“Gowda has appointed 5-time legislator H.K. Kumaraswamy as the party’s state unit president in place of A.H. Vishwanath, who resigned from the post in June, owning moral responsibility for the party’s debacle in the recent Lok Sabha elections in the state,” party’s spokesman Ramesh Babu told reporters here.
Kumaraswamy, a Dalit, represents the Sakleshpur assembly segment in Hassan district, about 180km northwest of Bengaluru.
Former legislator Madhu Bangarappa has been appointed the party’s working president and former minister N.M. Nabi and legislator K. Gopalaiah as the party’s senior vice-presidents.
Gopalaiah represents the Mahalakshmi Layout assembly seat in Bengaluru’s northwest suburb.
“Though Bangarappa lost to BJP’s B.Y. Raghavendra in the parliamentary poll from Shimoga, he has been entrusted with the responsibility of reviving the party’s prospects in the Malnad region a stronghold of the BJP,” Babu said.
In a surprise move, Gowda made his younger grandson Nikhil president of the party’s youth wing although he lost in the Lok Sabha election from Mandya to Independent and South Indian multi-lingual film actress Sumalatha Ambareesh.
Nikhil, 28, is the son of state Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and Anitha, a legislator from Ramanagara assembly seat, about 60km southwest of Bengaluru.
Nikhil is also an upcoming film star in Kannada and Telugu movies.
Gowda’s other grandson – Prajwal, won the Hassan Lok Sabha seat, which is the party’s bastion and home district of the Gowda clan.
Prajwal is the son of state PWD Minister H.D Revanna, who is Gowda’s second son and elder brother of the chief minister (H.D. Kumaraswamy).
The former prime minister (Gowda) opted to contest from Tumkur, paving way for Prajwal in Hassan, but lost to BJP’s G.S. Basavaraj.
“The remaining office-bearers will soon be appointed to strengthen the party across the state and prepare for the local body elections in early 2020,” Gowda said on the occasion.
In the May 2018 assembly elections, the JD-S won only 37 of the 220 seats it contested and its candidates lost even deposits in 150 seats.
In the Lok Sabha polls, it won only one of the 7 seats it contested, with its ruling ally Congress, which also won only one seat (Bangalore Rural) of the 21 it contested as joint candidates as per the pre-poll alliance.
In contrast, a resurgent BJP won 25 of the 27 seats it contested and supported Sumalatha to wrest Mandya from the JD-S. (IANS)