In the Mahagathbandhan rally that had taken place in Kolkata a couple of weeks back, former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda had asserted that the coalition government can give a better administration than the Modi-led government. Essentially, he was claiming that the coalition governments need not be perceived as mazboor Sarkar or weak to govern. But he contradicted his own assertion in Karnataka where his party JDS has formed the government joining hands with Congress. As reported by the media, H D Deve Gowda’s angry words about the state of affairs in Karnataka, where the government is headed by his son H D Kumaraswamy, are this: “Is this the way to run coalition govt? Can’t keep quiet now.” So, the person who pitched for a coalition government at the Centre, is not happy with the coalition model in his home state!
Therefore, if we take this Karnataka coalition model on a nation-wide basis, the political future of this country under the so-called Mahagathbandhan appears far from stable. Talking more specific of the Karnataka model, there has been constant internal bickering with chaos and confusion being the order of the day. At the same time, it is clearly evident that there is less focus on development and administration.
We have already mentioned how at the January 19 rally in Kolkata, our former Prime Minister Deve Gowda had strongly spoken for the coalition model at the Centre. Within weeks on January 31, he had said:
“I am in pain, today six months have completed since Kumaraswamy became chief minister. All kinds of things have happened in these 6 months, till now I have not opened my mouth but I can’t keep quiet now.”
Let’s now assess how Mr Deve Gowda’s son, the current Chief Minister of Karnataka H D Kumaraswamy has behaved ever since he took charge in May 2018, a sign of constant chaos among coalition partners.
On July 2018, CM Kumaraswamy had cried at a public function, apparently to convey the pain and difficulties in running the coalition government. He had said: “I know the pain of coalition govt… I became Vishkanth (Lord Shiva) and swallowed pain of this government.” There may be many interpretations to this incident. Among them, one could be that the Chief Minister himself is not in control and rather feeling helpless in the JDS-Congress coalition government in Karnataka.
The constant tug-of-war within the JDS-Congress coalition government in Karnataka has been reflected in the statements of Congress leaders as well. In July 2018, a Congress leader in Karnataka, K B Koliwad had indicated that there were different camps in the Congress with one group not wanting to support CM Kumaraswamy.
The news of rift between Congress and JDS play out often as reflected in this report. Lack of mutual respect between the top leaders of both the parties is much evident in the regular outbursts of CM Kumaraswamy. A few days back in January 29, Kumaraswamy had threatened to step down. According to media reports, the reason for CM Kumaraswamy’s displeasure was that some lawmakers from Congress had maintained that they still considered Siddaramaiah as their CM.
It is apparent that this constant power struggle between JDS and Congress leadership has prevented any development discourse to prevail in Karnataka. As we have documented in our article Chaotic Coalition in Karnataka Government, from the implementation of farm loan waiver to law & order, everything related to administration is in disarray.
In the run up to the 2019 polls, the political situation has turned even more complicated. Another son of Deve Gowda, H D Revanna, who is also a minister in Karnataka government has been seen settling scores with the coalition partner through statements in media.
Then the reported feud between Deve Gowda and Siddaramaiah seems to be never ending as this media report suggests. Deve Gowda who is promising a strong coalition of many parties at the Centre, has been struggling to finalize a seat-sharing agreement with one single partner in Karnataka.
Thus, the model of mazboor Sarkar is very much evident in Karnataka where the talk of development and governance is completely absent. And the political slugfest is the only constant that the people get.