Karnataka drama: Why BJP should worry about winning the floor test
Sometimes you sacrifice your today for a better tomorrow.
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The BJP has scored a self-goal in the ongoing political drama in Karnataka. Here is how.
Big blow to its image
BJP’s image has been dented. The party which proudly characterises itself as “the party with a difference” has acted to the contrary. It showed an unseemly haste in staking its claim to form government in the state even though its tally of 104 seats was less than the post-poll Congress-JD(S) tally of 116, four more than the clear majority mark, implying that it would resort to covert and unethical ways to cobble up a majority in the house.
The BJP has thus performed poorly on the public perception index and taken off sheen from its “party with a difference” claim. If BS Yeddyurappa of the BJP manages to win the floor test at 4pm tomorrow (May 19), as stipulated by the Supreme Court today (May 18), then it would do so by taking resort to such shady practices as poaching or inducement to some MLAs of the Congress and JD(S) to either absent themselves from voting or indulging in cross-voting against their respective party whip or simply resign from their seats. In case, the party fails in the floor test, it will lose face. In either situation, the BJP will be going down in the all important public perception.
Ready to take the floor
Blow to the office of governor
Again, talking about the public perception, Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala has acted as more loyal than the king. First, he sat on his decision for almost two days which inevitably encourages horse-trading and dirty politics. Second, he gave Yeddyurappa 15 days time to prove his majority even though the man himself had asked for only seven days. Third, he nominated a member of the Anglo-Indian community to the state Assembly, directly benefiting the BJP at the cost of the Congress-JD(S) combine, a move which was struck down by the Supreme Court today.
All these actions by governor Vala have lowered the prestige of the governor's post and once again raises questions about how governors have acted like puppets of the central government. Vajubhai Vala is a non-entity. The BJP isn't. It doesn't matter if Vala’s image is sullied by going out of his way to accommodate the interests of the BJP.
Sacrificing your today for a better tomorrow
But it should matter to the BJP if the party image is sullied and that too when general elections are less than a year away. Even if presuming for argument sake that Vala acted unilaterally, all his mistakes go into BJP's account. That's how public perceptions graph works.
Consolidated Opposition unity
The BJP has inadvertently consolidated Opposition unity ahead of 2019 general elections. Karnataka post-verdict drama has added to the BJP's woes as its main rival Congress has been fortified and blessed with one more ally for the 2019 polls — the JD(S). The Congress and the JD(S) will contest the general elections together and will make it a much tougher fight for the BJP in Karnataka which has 28 seats in the Lok Sabha. The Congress cleverly stole the BJP's thunder by offering chief ministership to the JD(S), an offer which BJP could never match. The Congress-JDS bonhomie is likely to continue for the next state Assembly polls as well whenever these are held.
Congress, the RJD given opportunity
The Congress and the BJP were given an opportunity to score brownie points against the BJP. The Karnataka governor's decision of giving chance to single largest party (albeit short of clear majority) to form government has triggered a different kind of "me-too" campaign by the Congress in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in Bihar. It's another matter that neither the Congress nor the RJD have any merit in their argument of knocking the doors of the governors of these states with a plea that the Karnataka model should be adhered to in the above-mentioned four states as well.
The Congress and the RJD know full well that the only road to regaining power in these states goes through no-confidence motion and they are in no position to win it. Nonetheless, the Karnataka governor's act has given the opposition an opportunity to score brownie points against the BJP at national level.
According to insiders, there were many voices within the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), which suggested that the BJP should allow the Congress-JD(S) to form government in Karnataka and watch for this arrangement to collapse on its own just as the RJD-JD(U) arrangement in Bihar did. However, the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo thought and acted otherwise.
The BJP’s best bet would have been to do what Rajiv Gandhi did in the wake of the 1989 Lok Sabha elections that threw up a fractured mandate. Despite the Congress getting 197 seats and a vote share of 39.53 percent, as against the corresponding figures of Janata Dal's (143 seats and 17.78 percent vote share) and BJP's (83 seats and 11.36 percent) respectively, Rajiv Gandhi decided that the Congress will sit in the Opposition.
Whatever is the result of the floor test tomorrow, it's a lose-lose situation for the BJP and a win-win situation for the Opposition.
The BJP will rue this bad call in the future. Sometimes you sacrifice your today for a better tomorrow. After all, a retreat from the battlefield can be a tactical move also. Doesn't it make a better sense to lose a battle to win the war?