The Karnataka state assembly election results and what ensued thereafter is eerily similar to what happened in Loksabha elections in 1996. In both cases the Gowda Family played an important role and both times, it is Congress which played the second fiddle.
After Congress became Indira’s Congress, political subversion and manipulation of the electorate became the regular norm and Indira’s Congress went to great lengths to ensure retention of power at the Central level. We all now talk about Dr Manmohan Singh being the accidental Prime minister but it was actually the father of the newly sworn-in Chief Minister of Karnataka, Deve Gowda who is the original Accidental Prime Minister of India.
In 1996 general elections the mandate produced a hung assembly just like in Karnataka assembly polls, 2018. Similarly, then also BJP came out as the single largest party bagging 160 odd seats, the Congress won 140 seats, their worst till that point in history. The Janata Dal won 45 seats and other parties won around 100 seats. No party or coalition had the required numerical strength to form the government.
The then President Shankar Dayal Sharma asked the largest party leader, Mr Vajpayee to form the government, Mr. Vajpayee was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India but he resigned right before the floor test. The Karnataka fiasco saw the exact same scenario, BJP’s Yeddyurappa was asked by the Karnataka Governor to form the government and after the swearing in Ceremony, Yeddyurappa also tendered his resignation before the house with minutes remaining till the commencement of floor test.
In both instances, The Congress manipulated and subverted the people’s mandate. It was Congress who provided support to the then coalition helping it to assume power. In 2018, It’s the same Congress which helped junior Gowda to assume power.
If one is to do a comparative study of the 1996 general elections and the 2018 Karnataka elections, it becomes apparent that neither Deve Gowda nor Kumaraswamy was ever meant to hold the posts they assumed, even they themselves never thought about assuming such positions.
The 1996 14-party coalition wanted V.P.Singh at first to become the Prime Minister when that idea sank, they opted for Jyothi Basu, whose party did not allow him to assume the position only after then, The Congress-led coalition panic-stricken and desperate opted for Deve Gowda, who then had just completed two years of his chief ministership of Karnataka. A completely unknown and untested Deve Gowda was made the Prime Minister only to ensure The Grand old party stays a part of the ruling class.
In 2018, the Congress party campaigned viciously against H.D. Kumaraswamy and the JD(S), and never did talk about consolidating their differences and coming together but it was only when it became clear that there is no other way for them to cling to power, they approached their old political mule to carry them to the altar of power. There they proceed to sacrifice the people’s mandate just like they did back in 1996.
History is repeating itself as H.D.Kumaraswamy becomes the new chief minister despite having won only 37 seats in Karnataka Assembly just like His father became the Prime Minister despite securing the nominal amount of seats in 1996 general elections.
If we go by the precedence of the 1996 Gowda government then the future looks bleak for the Kumaraswamy government in Karnataka. The Kumaraswamy government’s days are numbered, the last time it was less than a year before The Congress pulled the plug and withdrew its support bringing down the Gowda government. The only real question now is Who will be the Kesri in today’s Congress.