By Sushil Kutty
There are no thoroughbred kudra in Karnataka politics today – stallion, mare or gelding. They are all of suspect breed, with a price and prize to command. Then, there are the horses for courses, tasked to identify the vulnerable horse to rustle from rival political stables – Sriramulu and the Galli Reddy bros of Bellary in the BJP, and ‘moneybag’ DK Shivakumar in the Congress camp.
Sriramulu and the Galli Reddy bros are looking for Congress and JD(S) horses to rustle and lock up in resorts-turned-stables. Ditto DK Shivakumar. Resorts, look like the lucky ones among them have become hectic centres to hold horses with horse-trading on the sly. Bangalore nee Bengaluru is right now one big Mahalaxmi Race Course, not a one-horse town.
Of course, the problem is to ‘identify’ the right horse to geld – castrate and auction. The stallion is highly temperamental, also very self-centred, so a risky horse to approach. But the right price/prize and the stallion might swing. The mare is less ‘moody’, therefore not easy to ‘swing’, but has a taste for the carrot and sugar. The stallion is full of oats! The trick is to get them early, and geld them immediately. “We’ll poach double the BJP MLAs if the BJP tries to poach JD(S) legislators,” HD Kumaraswamy, the lucky horse on Tuesday, said Wednesday. “I’m no saint!”
No, he is not a saint! He is the gelding who rode in third last to lay claims to the derby because the runner-up Congress mare tripped the BJP stallion a horse-length from the winning tape. But the devil in Kumaraswamy has come to the fore because there’s a likelihood that Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala might invite BJP stallion BS Yeddyurappa to form the government. Then it will be horse-trading insurmountable! Who mounts the horse is what counts!
“No brother, they have been doing that from yesterday (Tuesday) evening, calling up our MLAs with offers of Rs 100 crore and a cabinet-ranked post. 2008, when I aligned with the BJP, was a blot on my career. I did not listen to my father then. I will not repeat the mistake. And I warn the BJP not to repeat Operation Kamal,” said Kumaraswamy, retorting to a question with, “Javadekar! Who is Javadekar?” the answer to which he knows, and is wary of. Javadekar is the BJP horse-trainer who holds the reins of Sriramulu and the Galli Reddy bros, horses for courses tasked to get hold of at least eight Congress/JD(S) kudras to bring BJP horsepower up to speed at 112 or more.
BJP has fielded Yeddyurappa in the power-grab derby following the electoral-derby that resulted in a hung verdict. He is up against the Congress mare, which hung on to his flying tail and held him back frothing at the mouth just when he thought he was home with blazing glory. Now, Yeddy is banking on the Mahalaxmi Race Course owner Vajubhai to give him a running start over the Congress-JD(S) horse.
Life on the Mahalaxmi Race Course in Bengaluru is all about the Kudra and the horse-trader. The workhorses who voted the horses to the assembly have no say anymore. They are lined up heads down on both sides of the racecourse waiting and watching and betting to see who wins this illegal race they are to blame for. The Congress and the JD(S) are hoping that governor Vajubhai will be the thoroughbred he ought to be, keep a vacant mind when holding the starter’s gun. But thoroughbred are anarchists at heart.
Meanwhile, other smaller races have begun. For example, the race to become deputy CM in a JD(S)-Congress government. With outgoing CM Siddaramaiah nowhere in the race, the gallop for deputy CM is between DK Shivakumar and Parameswara, the second Dalit face in the Karnataka unit of the Congress. Of the two, Shivakumar is horse for course and stallion, the more temperamental, with stacks of money to boot. He has the hay and the ability to ‘hey there’. Parameswara has only god, going by the name of Rahul Gandhi, on his side, maybe!
But Rahul and his top aides are engaged in other business, looking at the legal options available if Guv Vajubhai, a known Modi-confidante, invites Yeddyurappa ahead of Kumaraswamy. The Congress has stolen a horse-trick from the BJP, the one which won the BJP the derby in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya. The Congress insists Guv Vajubhai invite Kumaraswamy, not sneaky-horse BSY.
Legal luminaries are divided on the options Vajubhai can resort to: invite the alliance or the single-largest party. Advocate Indira Jaising is singing for the alliance, harking back to an Arun Jaitley tweet that put the alliance, post or pre-poll, on the front. The BJP says that’s old horse manure, not fit for the Mahalaxmi racecourse anymore. Legal luminary Soli Sorabjee suggests a “best course” formula: Invite the single-largest to form the government and prove majority in “very short time to avoid horse-trading”. If that fails, bring in the alliance. But it should be on the floor of the House, not the Governor’s residence, he insists.
So, that’s where it stands with the horses in Bengaluru. Horses are divine animals and, like the dog, the horse can get the measure of a man with a single glance. “When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk; he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes,” wrote the Bard in Henry V. And “God forbid that I go to any Heaven on which there are no horses,” wrote somebody else. But yet somebody else said this: “… And you’ll know that man’s pathway to glory is strewn with the bones of the horse.”
To quote an unknown voice, ‘the horse life is a life of the highest highs and the lowest lows; you never know which is coming next, the horses have a way of spoiling even the most carefully laid plans, why do we love them again?’ For the horsepower to power, of course.