Twist in Karnataka politics: How in the battle between Siddu and BSY, Kumaranna emerged triumphant
Bengaluru, May 24: In less than a month's time, Karnataka has seen three chief ministers--Siddaramaiah, BS Yeddyurappa and now, HD Kumaraswamy.
Before the Karnataka Assembly elections, the results of which were declared on May 15, it was Siddaramaiah who was at the helm of affairs as he strongly managed the erstwhile Congress government for five years.
Then came Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) Yeddyurappa, who after the polls (despite not having the numbers), was sworn in as the CM last week. Yeddyurappa's prediction of becoming the CM did come true, albeit for a very short period, just two days, as he had to resign just ahead of the floor test on Saturday (last week) realising he has failed to woo MLAs from the opposition's camp.
In the Karnataka political drama, one man who was mostly in the backstage and dubbed as the "kingmaker" before the polls, 58-year-old Kumaranna (as Kumaraswamy is popularly known among his supporters) had the last laugh as he was sworn in as the new CM of the state on Wednesday.
Before the elections, from political parties to the media, the entire narrative was built around the battle between the two former CMs--Siddaramaiah and Yeddyurappa. Kumaraswamy, the state head of Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S)), was seen as the man who will play a decisive role by either supporting the Congress or the BJP as most poll surveys predicted a hung Assembly.
Political analysts and pollsters were proven right, at least in one of their predictions that the election results would throw up a fractured mandate. Interestingly, no one hinted that the JD(S), which came third in the elections with 38 seats (along with the Bahujan Samaj Party), will get to rule the state. See, at times it is not bad to come last!
The BJP, which won 104 seats out of the 222 constituencies which went to polls on May 12, was short of at least eight MLAs to run its government. The saffron party did its best to come to power by first allegedly arm-twisting the office of the governor.
Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala gave preference to the BJP (despite not having the numbers) to form the government. The Congress and the JD(S), which quickly stitched an alliance after the results, too staked their claim to form the government.
In fact, the Congress-JD(S) combine had the numbers (at least 116 MLAs), but could not impress the governor to call the alliance partners to form the government in the southern state.
Vala also gave Yeddyurappa 15 days (a pretty long time) to prove his majority on the floor of the house. However, the Supreme Court's verdict to immediately have a floor test in Karnataka completely changed the game in favour of the new alliance partners.
Although the Congress has won 78 seats, almost double the numbers won by the JD(S), it is the latter which got the plump post of CM. When everyone was calling Kumaraswamy as the "kingmaker", he had declared himself as the "king". The two-time CM of Karnataka was right. He definitely emerged as the "king" in a battle where he was standing far away.
During his swearing-in ceremony hosted in the precincts of the majestic and equally beautiful Vidhana Soudha (the building that houses the state legislative Assembly) located in the heart of Bengaluru on Wednesday, it rained--heavily before the event, then a slight drizzle and finally minutes ahead of the big ceremony the sky relented and the downpour stopped leaving behind a grey streak of cloud all over it.
Kumaraswamy's swearing-in ceremony became a national talking point, as most of the opposition leaders flew down to Bengaluru as a mark of solidarity with the "anti-BJP forces" ahead of the 2019 General Elections. Whether the Opposition unity will last till the next year is something we have to wait and watch, for now the Congress-JD(S) alliance is focusing on the floor test which is scheduled on Friday.
Till then, Kumaraswamy is definitely Karnataka's CM.