‘Politics makes strange bedfellows’ is a saying adapted from William Shakespeare’s play, “The Tempest”. It essentially means that vested political interests can bring people together who otherwise have very little in common.
This scenario was repeated in the recently-concluded Karnataka state assembly elections where the JD(S) and the Congress formed an alliance to prevent the BJP from forming the government. The BJP had secured 104 seats and was just eight shy of claiming a majority in the house. On the other hand, two months before the Karnataka elections, the chief-ministerial candidate of the recently-formed post-electoral alliance, HD Kumaraswamy, had stated that the Congress was more dangerous than the BJP in a democracy like India’s, in an exclusive interview.
In my opinion, the recent drama over the formation of the government led by the JD(S) witnessed the complete manipulation of constitutional procedures and provisions. The Congress extended unconditional support to the JD(S) which merely secured 38 seats in the 222-member state assembly. Upholding the constitutional mandate, the Supreme Court of India directed the Yeddyurappa-led BJP government to prove the majority through a floor test within 48 hours of the formation of government, after the Congress had also staked its claim in a hung assembly.
The constitutional explanation and the Supreme Court judgment certainly bestows the decision in favour of Congress-JD(S) alliance, which, by the combined might of 117 MLAs, is in a position to form a majoritarian government. However, in my opinion, such an interpretation of constitutional power fails to take into account the choice of the voters who voted on the basis of their ideological underpinnings and the developmental agenda proposed by the individual political parties.
Secondly, the coalition intends to jointly use their power in decision-making and effectively utilise the institutions to deliver their governance and developmental agenda to the people. However, this intent is being diluted as the JD(S) seems to be most keen to capture power among the opportunistic triad, while the Congress is trying to keep BJP out of power by all means. Since the Congress has extended unconditional support to JD(S), people will now have to watch whether the party bargains for power and resource-sharing while forming the government, or whether it stands firmly by its extended promise.