By Sushil Kutty
Democracy won or not did not matter. But Karnataka CM for a day BS Yeddyruppa decided he has had enough of it. He quit. He resigned Saturday after an emotional speech. Around 4 pm was time for the SC-ordered floor test. But Yeddy was reading out his resignation: “I resign, I resign. I’m going to the Governor now. I thank all. I thank the people of Karnataka. I’m going directly to the Raj Bhavan.”
That was it – end of BSY 3:0. But it was beginning for the JD(S)-Congress alliance. Will the alliance last, and for how long? For BSY it was a long career. Also the end of the road. His swansong reached every home thanks to the Supreme Court order that the floor test be telecast to all of Karnataka. It was a coup of sorts. For a short 10-15 minutes, Yeddy had the ear of every man/woman, directly talking to the distressed farmers of the state to whom he kept referring to back and forth in his emotional speech.
Also referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi several times, Yeddy told the assembly he would deliver all 28 Lok Sabha seats to Modi in 2019. He also promised to return BJP to power with 150 assembly seats when the Time comes. With that the BJP looked to win the high moral ground. Lower down, the Congress read it this way: “We resisted to all sorts of arm-twisting by the Centre. Some of our MLAs were kidnapped. But they escaped and stood by our party. So, we’re 117 and victorious. We also thank the SC who once again rose to the occasion.”
Third-time unlucky, Yeddy realized he couldn’t cobble the magic figure of 111/112 required to stay in power. But that number was just not possible after the Supreme Court set him 24 hours to prove he had the numbers. If the BJP thought they could muster the number given a few more days that was no more the possibility. The Congress-JD(S) alliance, cobbled in the wake of the assembly election results, which delivered a fractured house, now gets a chance to form government.
But the first hurdle the Congress will face will be on its choice of deputy chief minister. There are a couple of candidates and either of them, if denied the post, could sow the seed for future discord the BJP could take advantage of.
Yeddyurappa was expected to resign with a 12-and-a-half page speech written and vetted by him in the chamber of the Pro Tem Speaker KG Bopaiah who was supposed to be the knight in shining armour to cement BSY’s hold on power. But with Yeddy’s resignation, KG too will not last long. It will be his reluctant duty to watch HD Kumaraswamy become CM!
But till Yeddy realized the game was up, other games were in play. A show a hands was to take place at 4 pm. The floor test. Could the Congress trust its MLAs? Could the JD(S)? Why, could even the BJP? In the house of cards nobody really knew. There was a trust deficit. At least with some. The Congress was missing a pair of cards. What if six or eight Congress cardsharps present round the table just out and quit, abstain from a show of hand? It was possible. Everything was in the mind, the back of the mind. Neither Siddaramaiah nor HD Kumaraswamy or, for that matter, not even Yeddyurappa were elected for the ability to read minds.
In such a situation how was the transparency the Supreme Court expected possible? Especially, when the croupier at the table – the person in charge of the gaming table, responsible for gathering in and paying out money or tokens – was the least trusted.
The Congress party’s AV Deshpande might have been the wisest with the most number of years in the House. But the chosen Pro Tem Speaker KG Bopaiah was not actually kindergarten as his initials suggested, a greenhorn maverick, wet behind the ears!
The BJP MLA was chosen for his ability to croak the loudest and drown all voices if it came to a show of hands. There’s no saying how many aces he has up his sleeve. This guy KG was the joker in the BJP’s pack. And it was not a laughing matter.
The Congress took it up with the Supreme Court. Take KG off the House map! But His Lordships’ bags were packed. They were off to vacation and the 4 O’ Clock was too close for correction. So, when the government suggested ‘videography’ in the name of transparency, direct-to-home from Vidhana Soudha, the Justices nodded and Kapil Sibal nodded. That was it – the ‘People’ would be watching, and nobody tinhorn in the House would misbehave!
But that was easier said than done. The Vidhana Soudha was pristine ground, citadel of democracy in Karnataka. But 4 pm it could become casino. What if the show of hands turned into a fistfight? The mic thrown and chairs hurled, MLAs at each other’s throats? A huge sound erupted and all noise and nothing decipherable heard?
In the midst of all this ruckus, what if KG shouts into his mic, “The hands have it, the hands have it, the floor test is done and dusted with, Honourable BS Yeddyurappa’s government has proved its majority, congratulations are in due, gentlemen and ladies, the House stands adjourned till we meet Monday.”
The people in the drawing-rooms and shops and television showrooms and office cubicles and boardrooms would see transparency at work and the frozen images on TV will break and somebody JD(S) or Congress would stand up and shout, “No! We want a division please, and order in the House.”
But nothing of the sort happened. Anand Singh returned. And Yeddy bid sweet adieu. (IPA Service)