Bharatiya Janata Party plays waiting game in Karnataka for power

Riding on its landslide win in the recent Lok Sabha elections at the national and state levels, an upbeat Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is waiting for the fall of the year-old JD-S-Congress coalition government in Karnataka to return to power in the southern state.

“We are in no hurry or desperate for power. We don’t have to topple the coalition government, as it will fall on its own soon due to dissidence in the Congress and serious differences between the ruling allies on several issues, including power-sharing,” BJP’s state unit spokesman G. Madhusudan told IANS on Thursday.

The resignation of two Congress legislators Anand Singh and rebel leader Ramesh Jarkiholi on July 1 from their assembly seats has made the BJP hope for more lawmakers of the ruling ally to quit, which will reduce the fledgling government into a minority and call for a trust-vote.

In the 225-member Assembly, including one nominated, the BJP has 105, Congress 78, excluding the Speaker, JD-S 37, BSP 1, regional outfit KPJP 1 and one Independent.

With the support of the BSP, KPJP and Independent, the ruling allies have 118, which is 5 more than the halfway mark (113) for a simple majority.

“If the Speaker (K.R. Ramesh Kumar) accepts resignations of Singh and Jarkiholi and 4 more Congress members resign, then a trail of strength on the floor of the Assembly will be inevitable as the coalition government’s strength will be less than the halfway mark,” asserted Madhusudan.

Denying any role in the resignation of Singh and Jarkiholi or instigating more Congress legislators to quit, the BJP has also decided not to move trust-vote against the government in the ensuing 10-day monsoon session of the state legislature from July 12, as the numbers are not in its favour yet.

“We are not going to burn our fingers again. Though a dozen unhappy Congress MLAs approached us even earlier to join our party (BJP) after resigning and contesting the by-elections that will follow, we have told them that they were welcome but without any condition or demand,” said the spokesman.

With the ruling allies bickering over the rout in the 2019 general elections, as both won only one parliamentary seat each to retain Bangalore Rural by the Congress and Hassan by the JD-S, they both are desperate to continue the coalition government, ostensibly to keep the BJP out of power, though it is only 8 short of the halfway mark for simple majority.

The BJP won 26 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats it contested in the state and supported Independent Sumalatha Ambareesh to win the Mandya seat, about 100km southwest of Bengaluru.

A split verdict in the May 2018 assembly elections threw up a hung house, with none of the three mainstream parties having numbers to form the government of its own.

Though the Congress and JD-S fought against each other in the assembly polls, they formed a post-poll alliance and came to power on May 23, 2018 after the 3-day BJP government resigned on May 19, 2018 for want of even a simple majority in the lower House.

“We will wait for our turn to stake claim for power if the dozen rebel Congress MLAs withdraw support to the government by giving such a joint letter to the state Governor (Vajubhai Vala), who will, in turn, ask the Speaker to conduct a trust vote to assess if the ruling alliance has the majority,” said Madhusudan.

Claiming that there was no threat to the government and would complete its 5-year term, Congress spokesman Ravi Gowda told IANS that the ruling allies were determined to stay put and thwart the BJP’s desperate attempts to wrest power from them.

“Efforts are on address the concerns of some of our legislators who are unhappy for not getting cabinet posts or becoming chairmen of boards or corporations although they are aware of the limitation in sharing them (posts) in a coalition government where they are shared with the ally (JD-S),” added Gowda.

Gowda also hastened to clarify that the Speaker did not yet accept the resignations of Singh and Jarkiholi and ruled out any more party legislator quitting ahead of the assembly session.


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