Will the BJP manage to pull off a Goa in Karnataka after all? And then pull the rug from under the feet of Kamal Nath in Madhya Pradesh and Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan? The former survives on the blessings of the Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party and Independents. Mr Gehlot’s government, equally precarious, is dependant as it is on a dozen Independents!
As the standoff between the Supreme Court and Karnataka Speaker Ramesh Kumar plays out — he was rapped by the court for his seeming defiance — the Speaker managed to get a breather until Tuesday on taking a final call on the resignations of 10 legislators from the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular). But that tiny room for manouevre may have come to nought with the state chief minister, H.D. Kumaraswamy's completely misplaced bluster. He called for a confidence motion, purportedly to prove that he isn’t in the seat because he hankers for power.
Many believe instead that the confidence motion is a deliberate ploy by the JD(S) leader — minus three MLAs — to end the arrangement with the Congress, rather than hand over chief ministership to the Congress, particularly if it is his bete noire, former Congress chief minister Siddaramaiah, who benefits. Mr Kumaraswamy’s move to send an emissary to the BJP on Thursday night was a signal that the JD(S) could even be exploring other options. Or does HDK have another plan up his sleeve to quell the rebellion and save the day?
Either way, the motion will see matters come to a head next Wednesday, a day after the deadline set by the Supreme Court, which could effectively nix the Siddaramaiah-led Congress’ attempts to buy time while it cajoles and threatens their recalcitrant MLAs who have all but flown the coop. The rebel MLAs, with one foot in the saffron camp, have refused to return to participate in the trust vote. With the number of resignations up to 14, along with those of two Independents, the rebel camp has now swelled to 16.
Dispatched to Mumbai to bring back the MLAs, Congress trouble-shooter D.K. Shivakumar came back empty-handed. Mr Shivakumar’s brand of intimidatory politics and the wiser counsel of senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who was deployed for the first time in recent times to keep the Congress flock safe from BJP poachers, may or may not work this time, simply because the Congress is at a crossroads, with little to offer, either at the state or the Centre.
Few believe it even wants to persist with this coalition. But wary of fresh polls, it may even prefer to sit in the Opposition. With the BJP, now led by forceful leaders in the Amit Shah mould like J.P. Nadda who engineered the crossover of 10 Congress legislators in Goa to the saffron camp, offering pelf and power, Congress states like Karnataka, Rajasthan and MP are ripe for the picking. No elections needed....