Political drama that played out in 2018 in Karnataka
Politics dominated Karnataka news in 2018 as psephologists and the Congress expected to continue being in power with a full majority. However, the results in May changed everything. The JD(S) who were called ‘backstabbers’ by both the BJP and the Congress are at their mercy now. Since the Congress came forward in their seek for support, the JD(S) offered its support amidst its continuous love-hate relationship. MyNation gives you a low-down on this development.
Karnataka, for the Congress party was a reason for them to cheer as they had over 120 legislators, besides being in power in Punjab and Mizoram in early 2018. But soon after the May election, the political equation changed. The JD(S) who were called 'cheaters' by both the Congress and the BJP were placed second and third despite scoring better than the JD(S) who now sit at the helm. The love-hate relationship between the Congress and the JD(S), and the BJP's sharp criticism at the time were the highlights of the high drama political scenario that gathered the attention of viewers across the country.
Out of 222 assembly segments, the BJP secured 104, Congress 77, JD(S) 37 and independents secured 3 seats. The BJP’s BS Yeddyurappa approached Governor Vajubhai Vala on May 15, requesting him to allow the BJP to form a government as it was the largest party, hoping to get support from three independents. However, the Congress- JD(S) combination had others plans and in three days Yeddyurappa had to resign after the party fell short of the required majority, thus making way for HD Kumaraswamy to assume office as chief minister on May 23. The sole credit to the formation of this coalition was given to DK Shivakumar who buried the hatchet with the JD(S).
Soon after the formation of the government, trouble reared its ugly head in the coalition-led government as the Congress leaders accused HD Revanna, HD Kumaraswamy's elder brother of 'interfering' in Congress' ministerial affairs.
Shivakumar was upset over Revanna's interference in his department and allegedly escalated the matter to HD Kumaraswamy on June 14. "If he (Revanna) is interested in interfering in my department, let him take up the responsibility of this ministry." a source quoted Shivakumar having said this in the light of the transfer of 30 officials.
Again, in the end of June, a video grab of former chief minister Siddaramaiah expressing doubt over the HDK-led government lasting after Lok Sabha Election gave the BJP to launch its attack b commenting on stability of the Karnataka government.
The resentment over this development could hardly settle down. CM HD Kumaraswamy's comment expressing his helplessness alluding to the fact that he could not take an independent decision, left the Congress party embarrassed
On July 14 Kumaraswamy cried on stage saying that running the government is very difficult. "I am not happy to be the chief minister. Running the coalition-government is as good as gulping poison like Lord Shiva. I am in deep pain,"
In August, the legs of the coalition began to tremble once again after few Congress leaders loyal to Siddaramaiah hinted that Siddaramaiah would come back to power as CM. Agriculture Minister Shivashankar Reddy, a close aide of Siddaramaiah said that Siddaramaiah could become CM again.
"Suppose tomorrow the two parties (Congress and JD-S) sit together at the coordination committee meeting and take a decision to make changes, then Siddaramaiah will be CM again," Reddy told reporters at Chamrajanagar on August 27.
Following this statement, the BJP hinted that the government would soon collapse as differences between the Congress and the JD(S) were out in open.
The Congress high-command reprimanded the Karnataka Congress and the leaders were called to Delhi to bury the differences with the JD(S). They were asked to stop airing comments that could pose risk to the government and to fight together in the by-elections in November.
The by-election in November was perceived as a trailer to the Lok Sabha polls for 28 MP seats of Karnataka. Shivamogga, Ballari and Mandya MP seats fell vacant after BS Yeddyurappa, Sriramulu and CS Puttaraju resigned from their posts after winning the assembly election.
The Cong-JD(S) combine decimated the BJP by winning in Mandya and Ballari. They also obtained a moral victory in Shivamogga after reducing the loss-margin from 3.5 lakh to 50,000 in November. Apart from the two MP seats, Ramanagara and Jamakhandi, the MLA seats were won by the party duo. Kumaraswamy's wife Anitha Kumaraswamy won in Ramanagara and Anand Nyamgoud won in Jamakhandi. The biggest blow that was, came to the Reddy brothers of Ballari when the Congress candidate Ugrappa won with 2-lakh margin
The cabinet reshuffle added spice to the political drama as many legislators turned rebel. Initially leaders like Roshan Baig, Ramalinga Reddy expressed doubt over the expansion taking place as the JD(S) they alleged, could drag its feet as they don't believe in taking any political decision during 'Dhanur masa' an inauspicious month according to Hindu community. Reddy even said that HD Deve Gowda and HD Revanna will not allow the cabinet expansion until the Lok Sabha elections.
After the cabinet expansion, protests and agitation from aspiring legislators and supporters turned out to be the highlight at the end of the year. While Ramesh Jarkiholi, a five-time legislator from Gokak, Belagavi threatened to resign over alleged highhandedness by minister DK Shivakumar, Ramalinga Reddy's supporters warned to back out from working for the Congress in the MP elections.
There is sure more drama to unfold in the Karnataka government as tension and unpredictability of the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections could lead to a lot of speculation and doubt within members of the fold.