The political drama of Karnataka has taken its interval with a twisted episode. Now Congress JDS alliance has grasped the lead role from BJP. Newly sworn Chief Minister B.S Yeddyurappa resigned from the office devoid of a clear majority. H D Kumaraswamy of Congress JDS alliance is in the verge to rule Karnataka on behalf of a coalition banner. The BJP’s failed endeavor to grab power will remain in records. But this act is not unprecedented. During its strongest phase, Congress party embraced ways to curb other parties having power. The ruling party at the Center upholds these strategies to stretch its presence across the nation. This is a tendency to curtail state federalism. These attempts are illegitimate and undemocratic. Coalition alliance has emerged in India as a repercussion of these authoritative tendencies. Let’s understand how the evolution of coalition politics started in India what are the future prospects of Congress JDS alliance in Karnataka.
Evolution of coalition politics in India –
Coalition politics is the hallmark of the parliamentary system where several parties seek to form the government. This is the outcome of a particular situation where no political party has a clear majority. In such situations, a group of actors coordinate their behavior in a temporary fashion to prove the majority at the floor of test.
The country has witnessed the politics of coalition since 1967. This was the first instance when Congress lost several state assemblies for the first time, though it emerged with a clear majority at the Center. The random use of Article 356 i.e President’s rule by the hidden consent of the center, ultimately digs the grave for Congress itself. The opposition parties pooled their votes together under a wider alliance. As a result, Congress was ousted from power in 7 states in 1967 ( 7 of 16 states). And Indira was ousted from Congress. The party split into many factions in 1969. The factions were Indian National Congress(I), Indian National Congress(O), Bharathiya Kranti Dal, Utkal Congress and Bangla Congress. Also, read out Can Congress Make A Comeback In 2019 Election Drawing From Its Past Experience?
In 1971,the Congress reinstated its position with a massive victory in Loksabha elections. It was subjected to the illusion ‘Indira Wave’. The down fall of other parties in the states projected INC as the only guardian of democracy.
However, coalition politics acquired significant ground during Rajeev Gandhi’s tenure. It was due to the internal conflicts within the party. The general election of 1991 validated the situation. The Congress formed a minority government under the leadership of P V Narasimha Rao with the support of left parties. In 1999, BJP formed the government under the coalition; National Democratic Alliance( NDA). After 2004 general elections, Congress-led United Progressive Alliance(UPA) was formed. They availed the external support of Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP), Samajwadi Party(SP )Kerala Congress and the Left Front. UPA retained power in 2009 also.
The general election of 2014 put an end to the tendency of coalition governments. In this general election BJP crossed the clear majority and has formed the government. Now the nation is expecting the possibility of another grand coalition towards 2019.
The Congress had ruled the country unopposed for two decades. Single-party dominance made them more authoritative. The party tried to grab power, by all means, threatening the existence of its counterparts. But these acts to devolve the country more unitary was effectively countered. Single parties failed to gain individual mandates to form the government. Coalition parties came into being. The authoritative structure revamped into a cooperative one (NDA, UPA alliances).
Later on, the conflicts within the alliances and self-interests turned this cooperation to a bargaining chip. The governance became stagnant. The will of the people again turned towards the single party. In 2014 BJP achieved the people’s mandate to form the government. The current authoritative procedures of BJP to assert power exhibit the repetition of the history. This would instigate the people to follow their previous decision of countering single party.
The state-level coalition politics is very complex than the national level –
Pre-poll alliance and post-poll alliance are the two ways of the coalition. A pre-poll alliance of similar minded parties is the normal prerequisite for a coalition government. A post-poll alliance is also possible where no party has the mandate to rule. It is very unusual that the opposing parties in the campaign coming together after the election. But it is advisable to form a collective government in order to avoid the political vacuum. These unusual procedures are becoming normal with regard to the drift in power equations. State politics is overwhelming with post-poll alliances.
Coalition government in Karnataka –
In the recent Karnataka election, no party won the mandate to form the government. BJP with 104 seats appeared as the single largest party. Congress and JDS won 78 and 37 seats respectively. As a result of Sonia Gandhi’s intervention, a post-poll Congress JDS alliance was envisioned and ultimately formed. Their combined seats were enough to clear majority. This alliance was intended to drift away BJP from power in Karnataka. INC initially offered external support to JDS to form the government under the leadership of H D Kumaraswamy. Later the party agreed to join the government in response to H D Deva Gowda. The BJP had used the same strategies to avail power in Goa, Manipur, and Meghalaya.
What is the future prospect of Congress JDS alliance in Karnataka –
The problems of coalition politics are inevitably applicable in Karnataka. We could forecast the possibility of a midterm election. INC and JDS are equally capable parties in Karnataka. INC has widespread representation throughout the state. JDS is powerful in its strongholds. In this assembly election, both the parties faced a loose-loose situation. But they succeeded in turning this defeat to a win-win condition. The INC’s initiative to support JDS was their only available alternative. It was the best offer to the opportunistic JDS. They gained the chance to rule Karnataka with its third place in the race. An alliance with BJP will not deliver this. INC applied their vulnerability to their favour through an instrument, JDS. This is how the Congress JDS alliance comes into play.
But we can not imagine Congress-JDS alliance cordial all the times. They might react in a win-lose situation in a different way. All are about to unplug in future. The hung assembly of Karnataka in 2004 exhibits the odd nature of JDS. INC had formed the government with the support of JDS. Later H D Kumaraswamy shifted his allegiance to BJP aiming Chief Ministership. But he dishonoured his agreement to divide tenure of Chief Minister with B.S Yedurappa. As a result, BJP withdrew their support and the government collapsed.
In Karnataka,Congress JDS alliance hold 56.3% of voteshare( 38% INC+ 18.3% JDS). So they represent the aspirations of the majority people( But not individually). And they succeeded in checking BJP in the state. This might have wider implications especially at the national level. It is a morale booster to regional parties to come together and to form grand alliance against BJP in 2019.
INC could act as a common thread in connecting these factions. The deliberate action of INC to be a backseater is an appeal to the regional parties. By promoting JDS to rule-ship, INC invokes an assurance that they are capable to facilitate this collaboration. Now the party is ready to entrust bigger roles to regional allied parties in the States. This would encourage confidence-building mechanism among INC-allied party nexus. And it is inevitable for INC’s survival. This approach instigates a newer vision. The rule of Congress party at the Centre with the support of regional parties. And the rule of regional parties in the states with Congress support.
An alternative to congress, third front is also available for discussions. There are many regional leaders like Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee etc having an eye in prime ministerial-ship. But this sort of an alliance is less likely to happen. Regional parties are limited to their own core areas, where they are powerful. They possess conflicting ideologies and interests. Their leaders hold equal space. So it might be difficult to choose a leader from them.
An anti BJP aspiration links these regional parties together. INC considers as the pan-India rival of BJP. So the alliance of regional parties under the aegis of INC is likely possible. The current outcomes in Karnataka will help Congress to attract other parties under an anti-BJP umbrella. The post poll drama in Karnataka betrothed INC-JDS-BSP. It would act as the foundation of regional collaboration. The foul play of the Governor enabled INC-JDS into a firm relationship.
This election episode has brought two influential parties together. They have similar secular ideologies and have common vote bank. It is better to work together than contesting each other. The veteran H D Deva Gowda has cordial relations with many of the prominent leaders of regional parties. K Chandrashekar Rao (Chief Minister of Telangana) is one among them. Gowda’s ability to bring leaders together might help Congress in a big way.
The success of Congress JDS alliance might act as a hoister to other regional parties to tie together against BJP. Please read our analysis Can BJP win the 2019 elections?
Coalition politics is beneficial to regional parties. They could involve in the wider spectra of Indian politics. It is normally impossible because of their limited scope. But coalition politics is injurious to a national party. It will devolve the party into a nominal or extinct. The politics of defection and money has a linear link with the practice of coalition which is detrimental to democracy.