JD(S)-Congress Alliance ‘No Bed Of Roses’, But Can Either Side Afford A Split?
A day after dewy-eyed Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy alluded in public to the pangs of the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government he heads, Union Minister Arun Jaitley questioned the government’s stability.
In a scathing blogpost titled ‘Is the Karnataka a Preview of what the Congress and the Federal Front Promise for the Future?’, the BJP leader raised concerns over Kumaraswamy’s public breakdown.
At a public function attended by party workers in Bengaluru on Sunday, Kumaraswamy had said “he wasn’t happy being the chief minister”. “You’re all feeling happy because one among you has ascended power. But I’m not,” he said. “I feel like I’m swallowing pain like the ‘Vishakanta’ (the poisonous neck, in a reference to the Hindu god Lord Shiva).” He immediately wiped his tears.
Jaitley wrote in his blog: “Listening to these statements of an Honourable Chief Minister, my memory took me back to the dialogues of the tragedy era of Hindi cinema. If this is the consequence of a two-party coalition, what is it that a disparate group of parties with no ideological similarity offer to India?”
The Congress-JD(S) coalition was forged after election results in May threw up a hung Assembly, with the national party, with 80 seats, offering the post of chief minister to the junior partner with 37 seats. After much wrangling, the JD(S), of which Kumaraswamy is the state president, secured the finance portfolio as well.
Friction, though, abounds the partners. Spats over issues such as portfolio allocation, farm-loan waivers and the state budget regularly spilled into the public domain.
Kumaraswamy announced a farm loan waiver of Rs 34,000 crore in the government’s maiden budget, whose necessity was reportedly questioned by Congress legislators, including former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Tensions flared in June after a video clip was aired in local TV channels in which the former CM expressed displeasure at the move.
“It’s been no bed of roses,” admitted Congress spokesperson Brijesh Kalappa, who expessed confidence at the government lasting the full term and delivering governance to the state’s public.
Watch this conversation with Congress spokesperson Brijesh Kalappa, BJP spokesperson Srinath Swethadri, and political analyst and professor at Karnataka University, Harish Ramaswamy