With the JD(S) losing the trust vote in the Assembly weeks after suffering a rout in the Lok Sabha Elections, political analysts say that the party could be staring at more defections.

Will resignation of accidental CM Kumaraswamy spell doom for the JDS in KtakaPTI
news Politics Wednesday, July 24, 2019 - 16:24

History repeated itself on Tuesday and life came a full circle for HD Kumaraswamy, the third son of former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and the 25th Chief Minister of Karnataka, as he resigned as the Chief Minister of Karnataka after losing a trust vote. 

For the second time in his political career, he had to unceremoniously tender his resignation to the Governor after losing the trust vote that brought an end to a three-week-long episode of political instability in Karnataka. 

While Kumaraswamy along with his coalition partners allege it was the BJP who engineered the dissidence, it was Deve Gowda three decades ago who had taken 19 rebel MLAs to the Governor which led to the collapse of the SR Bommai government.

“In 1989, Deve Gowda who had taken 19 MLAs to Governor and announced the withdrawal of support for the Bommai government. This later turned into a landmark case which stated that the Raj Bhavan is not the place to decide the majority of the government. The same thing happened this time, 15 MLAs went to Raj Bhavan and submitted their resignations. But Governor could not take any further action because of the Bommai case ruling, even though at that time, the Governor had dismissed the government. This time, Kumaraswamy has been defeated on the floor of the House,” Mahadev Prakash, political commentator and analyst, recounted.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Bommai case is cited every time there is a hung Assembly. In its 1994 judgement, the nine-bench Constitution Bench had held that state governments could not be dismissed arbitrarily by citing Article 356 at the behest of the Governor on the assumption that the government has lost majority status. It meant that the President’s power to dismiss a government is not absolute and his proclamation can only be put into effect only after the approval of both the Houses of Parliament.

In today’s case, Kumaraswamy’s government was in power for less than 20 months which was the tenure of his last stint as Chief Minister, in 2006-07. This time, his tenure has lasted only 13 months, after dramatic developments post the 2018 Assembly elections made him an ‘accidental Chief Minister,’ despite his party winning the least number of seats among the three prime political forces in the state. 

“In 2008, he (Kumaraswamy) had ditched Yeddyurappa and that had led to re-election in the state, and then Yeddyurappa came back to power with a majority on his own,” he added.

In fact, the possibility of Kumaraswamy becoming the chief minister had come into the picture only after UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had called former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda on May 15, 2018 (the day of the results of Karnataka Assembly elections) to forge a post-poll alliance.

The leader of the JD(S) legislature party, who was blessed by the top brass of the Congress, had won the floor test on May 25, 2018. The BJP had then staged a walkout even though BS Yeddyurappa had occupied the Chief Minister’s chair for two days. 

Regarded the “son of the soil,” Kumaraswamy then had the support of 36 of his party MLAs, 1 BSP MLA – a pre-poll ally of the JD(S) – and 78 Congress MLAs voting for him through voice vote. However, after losing Tuesday’s trust vote, this is the second time that Kumaraswamy’s tenure as the Chief Minister is ending well ahead of the five years’ tenure.  

Right from the day he took his oath as Chief Minister to the recent crisis, Kumaraswamy had earned the moniker of being the ‘crying chief minister,’ complaining about the coalition and the highhandedness of the Congress.  He had called himself a “clerk,” who has been forced to endure a “lot of interference”.

The development on Tuesday incidentally ensures that the record of his predecessor Siddaraimaiah, who is the only Karnataka CM to last a full tenure in 42 years, remains intact till 2024.

Sandeep Shastri, noted political scientist, said. “This is because every time there is a fractured mandate. There is a post-poll alliance which is based on no ideology making it inherently unstable and patently opportunistic.”

“Even in this case, the glue that held coalition together was an anti-BJP sentiment and a common motive to prevent the BJP from coming to power. Now that the BJP has got the power, I don't think there is anything that holds the coalition parties together. I am not sure alliance will continue,” he added..

This time around, however, more than the alliance, Deve Gowda has more reasons to be worried. Though many obituaries of the JD(S) have been written in the past, Mahadev Prakash opines this is the beginning of the end for the party founded by HD Deve Gowda.

“The BJP has won even the Tumakuru parliamentary constituency where the JD(S) was very strong. Chikkabalura and Mysuru-Kodagu also are with the BJP and the BJP is spreading its wings in Hassan, Mandya and other former JD(S) strongholds. I think in the next Assembly elections, JD(S) cannot secure more than 20 seats. In the coming years, they will be further decimated,” Mahadev Prakash said.

He further speculated that the JD(S) might further be affected by defections, which may benefit the BJP further in the coming days. 

“Like in Goa, some MLAs of the JD(S) may join BJP as they are unhappy with the Deve Gowda family. They earlier had 34 MLAs and already, three of them have defected,” he added.

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