Why The Karnataka BJP Is Treading Soft
After all the exultation over the Janata Dal Secular-Congress coalition government losing the vote of confidence on the floor of the Karnataka legislative assembly, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appears to be treading so softly as to seem it is in a minefield.
Under normal circumstances, the party’s highest decision- making body, the Parliamentary Board as well as other senior leaders, should have decided on a central observer for the meeting of the legislature party which would elect BS Yeddyurappa as its chief minister to facilitate his formal staking of claim to form the BJP government.
But the central leadership of the party has decided to “think before taking any step” so that the most powerful political party in India does not become an “object of ridicule.”
The problem lies in the current complexity of the legislative assembly and the number of those who have gone over to the side of the BJP.
At 6.39 pm on Tuesday, Speaker Ramesh Kumar announced that those in favour of the motion of vote of confidence, moved by chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, numbered 99. Those against the motion numbered 105.
“The motion of vote of confidence moved by the leader of the house HD Kumaraswamy has been defeated,” the Speaker announced.
The numbers meant that in the 224 member assembly, 20 members, including those belonging to the Congress, the JDS as well as the lone BSP member had abstained from attending the vote of confidence.
Their advocate Mukul Rohatgi had told reporters even on Tuesday that they were free to abstain since the Supreme Court had allowed it in its order on their resignations issue.
So the issue that is being debated by BJP leaders, both in Bengaluru and Delhi, is dependent upon Speaker Ramesh Kumar who is yet to take a call on the resignation letters as well as the petition of the Congress and JDS seeking to disqualify the rebel MLAs.
If he decides to disqualify all 15 of them, it is possible that a clear line will be drawn for Yeddyurappa to comfortably take a vote of confidence in the event of his staking claim to form the government is accepted by Governor Vajubhai Vala.
“The problem will arise if he (the Speaker) does not do anything about it. Or initiates action against only a handful of the MLAs. We certainly don’t want to stake claim, take office and not be able to prove our strength on the floor of the House and go and resign. We certainly don’t want to be the object of ridicule,” a senior BJP leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Lede.
The Speaker, on the other hand, has kept himself busy. He had heard the advocates of all rebel MLAs who had been issued notices on the basis of the petition of the two coalition partners seeking their disqualification on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, he was seeking legal advice on his next few actions. It is not clear whether he would decide on their resignations or disqualification on Thursday or Friday.
In the event of his not taking any decision or deciding to initiate action against a handful of them, the Governor will have to intervene and place the assembly in suspended animation and impose President’s rule.
President’s rule can be even for a couple of days or over a long term. “Maybe even six months,” said another leader of the party on condition of anonymity. The implication of this statement is that states like Maharashtra are scheduled to go to the polls in December and perhaps Karnataka could be in line too.
Outgoing chief minister HD Kumaraswamy is of the firm view that the only solution to the current situation is to hold elections. He told Yeddyurappa in the assembly – “Let me tell you that as soon as your ministry is formed, you will feel the bomb blast. Personally, I think it is better to go to the people.”
The strange part of the entire struggle for power is why the country’s biggest political party with an army of strategists did not think about all this before indulging in Operation Kamala 4.0.
In the midst of all this, perhaps in the hope of becoming the chief minister once again, Yeddyurappa has removed a D and a Y from his name, now referring to himself as Yediyurappa. Will the numerology help the man who is very close to being retired to the BJP’s Margadarshak Mandal?
The waiting game will continue, it seems, for some more time.
(This article has been edited post the development in Supreme Court when two Independent MLAs withdrew their petitions demanding a vote of confidence.)