In governance mode: on Yediyurappa govt’s focus

In governance mode: on Yediyurappa govt’s focus

The BJP government in Karnataka won a trust vote in the Assembly on Monday, but that does not end the political instability. B.S. Yediyurappa, who has become Chief Minister for the fourth time at the age of 76, can breathe easy for six months now. The irony of his trust vote victory is that his government does not have an absolute majority of the total strength of the House. The exact numbers in favour of the government were not clear as there was no division of votes on Monday, but it is apparent that the BJP is short of the halfway mark of the Assembly’s full strength, which is 225, including one nominated Anglo-Indian representative. Winning 105 seats, it had fallen short in the 2018 Assembly election but Mr. Yediyurappa had never conceded defeat. Supreme Court intervention ended his third tenure as CM in just three days then, but he is back in the saddle 14 months on, riding a rebellion in the ranks of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) which had formed a post-poll coalition and government in 2018. While the coalition had inherent contradictions that weakened it from the very start, it was the BJP’s relentless and amoral pursuit of power that led to its collapse. The BJP is evidently elated, and Mr. Yediyurappa said he believed in the principle of “forget and forgive”.
Many other characters in the months-long political drama in Karnataka may not be able to “forget and forgive” the machinations that preceded the vote. K.R. Ramesh Kumar, who resigned as Speaker on Monday, disqualified 17 rebels from the Congress and the JD(S) under the anti-defection law. By disqualifying them for the Assembly’s remaining tenure, he sought to pre-empt their inclusion in the new government, but the issue is headed for the courts. It might be a while before by-polls are held, and those could alter the Assembly’s composition. The bitterness among political parties will linger, and the government will have uncertainty hanging over it. The State houses some of the best companies and has built for itself a reputation as a destination for investors and job-seekers. A dishonourable political culture that involves rent-seeking, high-handedness and rapacity by leaders has dented that reputation in recent years. Karnataka continuing its success as an economic powerhouse is in the interest of the country. While these are medium-term concerns, the State has some immediate challenges to tackle, particularly water scarcity and urban management. With such tasks ahead, the Chief Minister will need all the time and focus he can possibly garner for governance. Now that Mr. Yediyurappa has realised his dream and taken command, he should ensure that his rivals who ended with bloody noses in this battle are drafted for better governance and the progress of Karnataka.

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