The Karnataka coalition tussle: Will the boat rock or remain steady until 2019

Vicky Nanjappa

Bengaluru, Sep 12: It has been a little over 100 days since the JD(S) formed the government in Karnataka with the Congress. The train has chugged through and amicably sorted out several issues, but problems persist on a day to day basis.

First it was Siddaramaiah with his indirect hints at becoming chief minister again. Now, the threat of a revolt within the Congress by the Jarkiholi brothers of Belagavi.

The problem erupted when the Jarkiholi brothers led by Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi raised the banner of revolt after a faction led by Congress leader Lakshmi Hebbalkar, who owes allegiance to Energy Minister D K Shivakumar, tried to gain control of the Primary Land Development Bank in Belagavi.

The past couple of days witnessed several attempts being made to raise the banner of revolt and the brothers saying that they enjoyed the support of at least 12 MLAs. If this is correct and the brother do decide to pull out, the coalition would collapse as it enjoys a slender majority of 118 MLAs in the 224 member house.

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Both sides- Congress and JD(S) tried to play down the issue and said that the problems have been sorted out.

Indirect talks:

The Jarkiholi brothers are reportedly in talks with B S Yeddyurappa of the BJP. The BJP expects at least 7 MLAs of the Congress would likely back them. The party is however keeping its cards close to its chest. There is no move to topple the government, but yes there are several disgruntled MLAs especially from North Karnataka and the Lingayat community, a leader in the know of the developments informed OneIndia.

He also said that the BJP would not approach anyone. However we could talk if they approach us first. When asked if another 'Operation Lotus' was on the cards, the leader refused to comment.

Reverse Operation Lotus:

Amidst talk that the BJP would look to poach MLAs from the Congress, there are moves to identify some disgruntled BJP MLAs. Some persons from the Congress are reportedly in talks with BJP leaders and attempts are being made to lure them.

Chief Minister, H D Kumaraswamy had gone on to say that there would be a surprise waiting for the BJP. You will see some from their side will come to us, he had also said.

Earlier Karnataka minister, Sa Ra Mahesh had warned the BJP against poaching. He said that there are 10 MLAs from the BJP who are in touch with the JD(S). He said that they want power and hence could jump the ship.

How stable is the coalition?

The BJP would hope that the boat rocks at least ahead of 2019. However it does not want to be seen as the party, which toppled the government. Hence any move from the BJP would depend on what move the Congress or JD(S) makes.

Several analysts tell OneIndia that the coalition will survive at least until the 2019 elections. The recent statements by Siddaramaiah and even his comments in the past should be seen in the context of both seat sharing in 2019 and his own relevance.

Also Read | Hebbalkar vs Jarakiholi: Congress downplays rift between leaders

At least until 2019, one would see these skirmishes and it would stop only once both parties decide on who gets how much to battle in 2019.

While some within the state unit of the BJP would be happy if they are able to install the government, the message from Delhi runs contrary to what they are thinking. The party's top leadership do want any adventure in Karnataka as of now.

The brief is, " if the government has to topple, let it topple, but do not be responsible for it." The party is putting in all its resources in the upcoming state elections in November/December. They feel that the Karnataka adventure can wait until that.

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