Karnataka: Delay in Cabinet formation points to problems for BJP

NEW DELHI, INDIA - AUGUST 6: Chief Minister of Karnataka BS Yediyurappa after meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Parliament Budget Session on August 6, 2019 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Had the nation's collective attention not been focused Jammu and Kashmir over the last couple of weeks, the farcical situation in Karnataka would have grabbed all the headlines and Twitter reactions.

The BS Yediyurappa-led BJP government has been functioning from July 26- the day he took oath as the Chief Minister for the fourth time- with just a single member in the Cabinet- Yediyurappa himself.

In the 20-odd days since then, Yediyurappa has been convening Cabinet meetings which he attended as the sole representative, and heaven knows what decisions the one-man Cabinet has taken.

There have been innumerable ridiculous things done as part of the legislative democracy in the country. But this one-man Cabinet meeting has to be a first.

Mercifully, the charade is set to end as around 15 Ministers are expected to be sworn in tomorrow. The list, which the BJP high command had to clear, seems to have gotten his nod. Sources in the Karnataka BJP say that tomorrow's swearing in is just one part of the exercise. One more list is pending with the central leadership. Once that list gets the green light, another group of around 15 will be ushered into office in a few days’ time.

That an entire State's governance was kept in abeyance just because one man was busy elsewhere paints a less than flattering picture of the workings of the BJP.

The State units seem to be tied to the apron strings of the central leadership- a sorry tale. The BJP has come to power in Karnataka on the promise that it would usher in a different style of governance and also ensure that the State’s aspirations are met.

But if things have to wait for around 20 days for Delhi to okay the State Cabinet… well. It looks like everything will be be remote-operated from the BJP's headquarters.

Various pressure groups have been at play demanding 'plum posts' in the Cabinet. Lingayats (Yediyurappa belongs to this caste) of the northern and coastal Karnataka belt who voted overwhelmingly in favour of the BJP are expected to prime share in the Cabinet.

The BJP has to play its cards smartly, for it cannot afford to antagonise any group or section. The BJP's numbers are just about adequate in the Assembly. But even a small tremor among the MLAs can bring Yediyurappa's edifice crashing down.

The BJP also has to take a call on the rebel MLAs whose mutiny helped bring down the JD(S)-Congress government. Since they have been disqualified, and are precluded from contesting the election (as and when they are held), the BJP is taking it easy on the issue. But if the court takes a different view from that of the Speaker, this equilibrium will be shattered for the BJP.