Karnataka Political Crisis: Rebellion in the Coalition

Alliances in India have not shown promising results in terms of management and governance. Karnataka is facing a similar crisis since the coalition came into power. It is continuing to sink deeper as day after day there are ministers who are resigning from their posts in the body. All 30 ministers of the Karnataka government quit on Monday to give a free hand to Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy to reshuffle his Cabinet. The Karnataka Government sure has entered into a long term crisis in politics. Let’s take a look at the ongoing political crisis.

Karnataka Congress leaders Siddaramaiah, K.C. Venugopal and Dinesh Gundu Rao speaking to the media on July 8. Source: The Hindu

What do the numbers reflect?

The Karnataka assembly has 225 members, including one nominated MLA. The halfway mark in the 225-member assembly is 113. Now, before the recent wave of resignations, the Congress had 78 MLAs, the JD(S) 37 and the BJP 105. The Congress-JD(S) also had the support of the nominated MLA, an MLA each from the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Karnataka Prajnyavantha Janatha Party, and one Independent. The Congress-JD(S) coalition effectively had the support of 119 MLAs in an assembly where the halfway mark was 113. However, this was before the resignations of 13 MLAs – 10 from the Congress, three from the JD(S) have now pushed the Karnataka government into a crisis.

Source: News18.com

How does it look like now?

Well, if we were to assume that the resignations of the 13 MLAs are accepted by the Speaker, the Karnataka assembly’s strength comes down to 212 from 225. Correspondingly, the halfway mark comes down to 106 from 113. The Speaker has also asked the rebel MLAs to meet him as many of the resignations are not in the proper format.

Speaker of the Assembly KR Ramesh Kumar, Source: PTI

Only one Independent MLA,  who was previously supporting the Congress-JD(S) has switched sides to the BJP. So, the Congress-JD(S)’s effective strength comes down by 14 to 105. Simultaneously, the BJP’s support base in the Karnataka assembly increases by one, to 106. However, this won’t be the first in Karnataka. The dominance of national parties and the inability of regional parties to grow in strength have seen repeated coalition governments in Karnataka get dissolved mid-way.

The first such coalition in Karnataka was formed in 1983. The Janata Party (JNP) had emerged as the single largest party with 95 seats and got outside support from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which has 18 seats, Left parties, and 16 Independents. Ramakrishna Hegde became the chief minister in this coalition.

Ramkrishna Hegde

However, after JNP’s performance in Karnataka in the 1984 Lok Sabha elections—just four seats. Hegde dissolved the government after one-year-and-354 days, saying that the party did not have the people’s mandate. In the subsequent state elections, JNP managed to win 139 seats to have a clear majority.

What does everyone feel?

According to India Today’s report state government faces a major political crisis, MLA Mahesh has reasserted that he will continue to support the coalition, but only if the government releases funds for his constituency. “Need funds for development for SC and STs. I am concerned that the district in-charge minister is from the Congress and the MP is from BJP,” said Mahesh who also addressed the media that BSP supremo Mayawati has directed him to stay in the coalition government.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, Source: PTI

After the resignations of the officials, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad accused the BJP and Prime Minister Modi for ‘taking away’ the MLAs. “You have taken away our MLAs in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and now it is happening in Karnataka. Where is the trust, ‘Vishwas‘ gone? Where is a democracy? People have faith in democracy. People elect their representatives on symbols,” he said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Karnataka chief BS Yeddyurappa on Monday demanded HD Kumaraswamy’s resignation from the post of Chief Minister on moral grounds. “When they lost confidence, they have no moral right to conduct the business. That is why we are demanding that he (CM) resign immediately,” Yeddyurappa said. “Tomorrow all our workers will protest because Congress-JDS lost the majority so CM should resign immediately. That is the people’s aspiration also,” he suggested.

In latest developments, Independent MLA Nagesh announced his resignation from Kumaraswamy government and extended support to BJP. This helps the BJP to reach 106 figure one seat ahead of the coalition government owing if the resignations are accepted.

What are the possibilities?

Current Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, Source: PTI
  • The first possible scenario is that the Congress and the JD(S) remain in power but with a radically different looking government. The 13 rebel MLAs would be asked to take back their resignations. Well, what then would Kumaraswamy do in this situation? He may continue being the chief minister of a freshly formed government or he may quit and make way for a new chief minister, perhaps someone from the Congress.
  • The BJP currently has the support of 106 MLAs. And, if the 13 MLAs’ resignations are accepted, the Congress-JD(S)’s strength would be reduced to 105. Now, with the 13 MLAs gone, the halfway mark in the Karnataka assembly would come down to 106. In this situation, the Congress-JD(S) government would fall. The Governor may then choose to invite the BJP — the largest party in the assembly to form the government. The party, with the support of 106 MLAs, would just be able to reach the new half-mark of 106.
  • Governor Vajubhai Vala instead of inviting the BJP to form the government might call for fresh elections to be held in the state. In this situation, either of two things could happen: HD Kumaraswamy could either be asked to remain as caretaker chief minister until elections are held, or the state goes under Governor’s Rule till polls are held.


Harshita Malik
Harshita Malik

Trained in journalism, fights for gender and human rights issues. Open to talks and criticism. Believes in individual wishes and opinions. A mediocre reader of non-fiction.

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