The fortnight-long political crisis in Karnataka arising out of the dissent raised by the Jarkiholi brothers of the governing Congress, hailing from Belagavi, has fizzled out, much to the relief of the coalition government, particularly the Janata Dal (Secular) and Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy although there is no clarity on how long it would hold good. It was a mere token effort on the part of the Congress central leadership, which doused the resentment.
Reports on the attempts of the Bharatiya Janata Party to unseat the coalition government by drawing the support of some legislators have also not been borne out of facts. Ironically, the BJP even refrained from fielding candidates for the byelections to three seats of the Legislative Council, which in itself would have proved to be a test of strength to the support that it enjoys in the Lower House of the Karnataka legislature. In a way, the BJP, by all accounts, has indicated that it is playing a waiting game and that as of date it does not have the numbers required to form a government.
The three vacancies in the 75-member Legislative Council came about following the resignation of G. Parameshwara, K.S. Eshwarappa and V. Somanna, who resigned from the membership midway through their term following their election to the Legislative Assembly in May. While the Congress and the JD(S) entered into an understanding and fielded three candidates, the BJP stayed away, and consequently, the candidates of the former were elected unopposed. For a victory, a candidate required 113 votes, which is as good as a simple majority in the Lower House. By refraining from fielding candidates, the BJP obviously has conveyed that it just does not have the numbers and consequently the strength of the BJP in the Upper House has reduced by two while that of the Congress and the JD(S) have increased by one each.
It should be noted that the Jarkiholi brothers — Ramesh Jarkiholi, Minister for Municipal Administration, and Satish Jarkiholi, MLA, — basically wanted their dominance in Belagavi to be undisturbed and it was not their intention to topple the government, apparently since their word carries some weight only in the Belagavi region. The president of the Women’s Wing of the KPCC, Laxmi Hebbalkar, has emerged as an important power centre in the region and they were keen to curb her influence, more so, since she enjoys the support of the Minister, D.K. Shivakumar.
A close reading of the so-called political turmoil of the past fortnight indicates that it was more of a media hype and was indeed far away from ground realities. Of late, a large section of the political leaders use the media to gain an upper hand, even when they have no intention to quit a party or work against the government. The Jarkiholi brothers precisely did that to call the shots with the Congress central leadership.
In recent times and as is evident, Congressmen in Karnataka do not care much about the directives issued by the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee or even the Congress central leadership. It is a reflection of the poor command and control exercised by the AICC general secretary in charge of Karnataka, leave alone the mess in the state of affairs in the Congress, and incidentally, Karnataka is one among the few States where the Congress is in power in the country.