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Uttarakhand Redux


Karnataka is going through a repeat of what happened in Uttarakhand during the Harish Rawat regime in 2016. The nine Congress MLAs who later joined the BJP with others had attempted a sudden coup by voting against the Rawat Government on the budget, but were thwarted by the then Speaker, Govind Singh Kunjwal, who refused to go for a division of votes at the MLAs’ request and declared the budget as passed. Had he allowed the count, the Rawat Government would have fallen. Instead, there was a lot of drama, with President’s Rule being imposed. This was quashed by judicial order and a floor test ordered. The rebel MLAs stayed away from the House and the Congress Government won the vote of confidence. Unfortunately, however, this did not remedy the damage caused by the rebellion leading to a whitewash by the BJP in the subsequent election. The same delaying tactics are being used in Karnataka to thwart the inevitable. The assembly elections had thrown up a divided mandate. The Congress-JD(S) alliance has not proved stable because the Chief Minister’s post was given to the party with fewer seats. It is clear that the Congress legislators felt disempowered as the executive powers lie largely with Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy. The goal of keeping the BJP out is not so overarching that these dissatisfactions can be ignored. Kumaraswamy clearly lacks the political and the administrative ability to keep everybody in good humour. With Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar playing a role not unsimilar to Kunjwal’s by refusing to accept the resignations of the rebel MLAs – which would put the government in a minority – a trust vote is going to be held on Tuesday. Either the rebels vote for the government, or they will face disqualification for disobeying the party whip. The government would come down but they would be unable to stand for re-election or become ministers for the stipulated period of time. It is possible that they might get relief, later, from the Supreme Court, but it is not a certainty. As such, the Congress would be able to hit them hard even while going down. What actually happens will become known only on Tuesday but the BJP will certainly emerge stronger in the presently foreseeable scenarios. The Congress and JD(S) support at the grassroots will decline. When, eventually, the assembly elections are held again, there is a strong likelihood that an Uttarakhand like result will emerge.