A trick missed?

BJP govt moving to ensure exit of Muslim traders from temples in K'taka(Photo: IANS)

While the legality of the invitation extended by Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s B S Yeddyurappa is now a question to be answered by the apex court, the political aspects of the move are for the party to consider.

For it has at one stroke brought together two bitter rivals and the consequences of this bonhomie may be felt in 2019 when the BJP faces a challenge far bigger than taking control of Bengaluru’s Vidhana Soudha.

The alternative would have been to follow the Goa precedent and allow the Congress and Janata Dal(S) to form a fragile coalition.


The contradictions would have bubbled to the surface within a few months and pushed the Karnataka voter to the BJP fold in 2019 with greater enthusiasm than was on show this week.

To begin with, the leaders of the two formations~Mr Siddaramaiah and Mr H D Kumaraswamy ~ have been bitter rivals for long and while adversity may have repaired the fissures, power could have re-opened them.

Second, while it may have been relatively easy to decide on a Deputy CM from within the Congress, the distribution of other ministerial berths and the various quangos would have led to acrimonious exchanges between the two parties and perhaps even within the Congress.

This would have happened in full public glare and caused disaffection in both the Congress and the JD(S). Thirdly, the defections and political realignments that the BJP plans now to ensure Mr Yeddyurappa wins the vote of confidence could have been attempted on far more fertile ground seven or eight months later to cause a spectacular collapse of the state government on the eve of the parliamentary poll.

This would have sent an unambiguous message to voters that such coalitions are inherently fragile, not just in Karnataka but even nationally. Finally, the BJP could have claimed the high moral ground ~ although this is not territory that any political party is particularly enamoured of ~ and shown it is indeed a party with a difference.

Now, the Congress and the JD (S) have been forced to join hands. Tribulation has thrown them together, and cold statistics may convince them of the need to stay together.

The politically astute West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was the first to point out ~ long before the numbers had emerged ~ that had the two parties fought the election together, the story would have been very different.

Had they done so, they would have won 151 seats, leaving only 69 to the BJP. More worryingly for the BJP, if this voting trend were replicated in 2019, it would secure seven ~ and not 17 ~ seats in the Lok Sabha from Karnataka.

It is pertinent therefore to ask if in its quest to cross the Vindhyas, the BJP has missed the wood for the trees. As Akbar, Shahjehan and Aurangzeb would testify, the Deccan is a tough nut to crack.