The events leading to the Karnataka elections, the results, floor test and the after math has captivated the mindset of the Indian voters and international audience alike. It demonstrates the repetition of India’s history, the political institutions at work vide their un-decorated discourses, platitudinous discussions and orthodox style of play. Such was the democratic hullabaloo surrounding the elections that the Supreme Court of India itself was forced into an eventful role.
The aforesaid concluded Karnataka state assembly elections marked a definite shift in the political paradigm of the country consisting of a direct face-off between the rampaging saffron party viz. Bharatya Janta Party (BJP) and the remnant stronghold of the Indian National Congress (INC). Whereas the Janta Dal (Secular) [JD(S)] played a defining role in the said face off. As the results persisted, BJP won 104 seats (as compared to 40 in the year 2013), the INC merely won 78 seats or nearly 27 percent (as compared to 122 in 2013) and the JD(S) consolidated its position in southern Karnataka by 37 seats (increased tally by 8 seats compared to 2013).
BJP despite being the single largest party was forced into a position to requisite 8 more seats to reach the magic figure of 112 inter alia it needed the support of 8 more elected figures to attain a majority of 112 seats and form a government. Yet, learning from its Manipur and Goa debacle (experience), INC came together with JD(S) to form a post poll alliance and attained the majority.
Howsoever, as it is said two things are uncertain in life “success and Indian politics”. The JD(S) and INC decided to approach the Governor of Karnataka to form the government. Their said plea was declined and BJP was invited to prove its majority, therewith resulting in a hung assembly. The BJP chief minister candidate Mr. BS Yeddyurappa took a sudden oath and INC was forced to approach the Supreme Court of India over the uncanny act.
A story that involved animosity, enmity and post poll alliance’ also resulted into an integrated input from the Supreme Court of India. It was debated that the Supreme Court in the case of S.R. Bommai vs Union of India, AIR 1994 SC 1918 had established a ratio decidendi holding that in the situation of a hung assembly (where no political party has obtained a clear majority of seats) the final decision rests with the concerned legislature through a floor test (vote of confidence). The Governor’s decision and discretion is a mere trigger to enable the legislature to decide the matter, while keeping in mind that none of the provisions of the constitution are violated. The Governor enjoys a pivotal role to expeditiously invite a floor test within 48 hours or a week through a maximum period of 48 days.
Despite the set precedence, the said virtue has always been difficult to implement. Governors are appointed at the whim and fancy of a political party, the courts are forced to intervene at the sight of violation of constitution and ultimately it comes down to the conduct of the legislation.
Thus again came wisdom and vision of the highest court of India. The senior counsel Mr. Mukul Rohtagi representing the BJP contended that their party can prove the majority at appropriate time, whereas the opposition (represented by senior counsels Mr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Mr. Kapil Sibbal) preferred a chance to prove their own majority at a floor test, which was in lieu with the constitutional provisions. Taking cue from the established precedent the court ordered that a floor test seemed to be best option. The party or coalition that enjoyed the majority should be invited to form the government. Hence, giving them a time till 4 p.m. the very next day to attain the floor test.
Therewith arose the rumors, debates and news-hour gossips, with parties aiming to woo the electoral candidates via means and ammunition. However, it was a matter of time with political analyst understanding the fact that wooing of 7 candidates towards a concentric party would arise clouds of disturbance. The Indian voters however have never respected the political pundits and have utilised the mindsets of their own. WhatsApp messages and fake news were resorted to and put to good use, with titular leaders and political strategist such as Mr. Amit Shah taking the lead, while INC and JD(S) were safekeeping their MLA.
Things became crystal clear when the BJP chief minister Mr. BS Yeddyurappa resigned within days of taking an oath. BJP failed in the floor test, INC and JD(S) came together to form the party, a replica of the Goa and Manipur elections, with the three parties sitting at the driving seat. Mr. H. D. Kumaraswamy from JD(S) took the oath as the Chief Minister of Karnataka.
Despite the aforesaid, the country’s political dialogue opened up numerous possibilities. The Karnataka elections were seen as a big prelude to the 2019 general election. While elections are due in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and thereon in Rajasthan, they are presently acting as BJP bastions. A victory in Karnataka would have affirmed the markets that the Modi-Shah partnership was still in function. Whereas, from opposition point of view it was to mark a rejuvenated INC, especially in the aftermath of Gujarat, where the competition was stiff.
Although the BJP garnered highest number of seats, the opposition could breathe a sense of strategic win despite losing out on the majority. Therewith keeping the hope of a strong opposition alive during and post 2019 general elections.
The real significant event was not that the BJP lost its chance to govern Karnataka, but that the INC and JD(S) came together owing to the accident of numbers and a cold shoulder by the center. It is opined that the BJP won considerable number of seats to its own dis-belief. Furthermore, BJP’s present inability to work in support of coalition acted to its own disadvantage, consequently giving the opposition parties a cause to re-unite and form their own alliance.
Politics is always built on opportunistic motives, therewith the success of BJP and its ride on power forced the opposition itself to unite. Furthermore, the flexing of muscles by BJP’ in certain months has crystallized the opposition to formulate togetherness and aim to uproot or restrain BJP. As political pundits and opined audiences, we might argue to an extent as to whose victory and/or defeat it was, however it is trite to state that the country’s political course stands distant from the idea of transparency. As quoted by Santosh Desai in his blog “When the elected representatives in a country need to be corralled into resorts and deprived of the means to communicate with the outside world in order to protect them from their own venality, we know that to expect clean governance from any quarter is a fantasy.”
At a time when the Indian media is stumbling in a frenzy of own, and the voters stand cheering the frivolous political attempts in the name of strategy, it is writ large on the face of the fact that change is no-where near to be seen.
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