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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 24 New Delhi June 2, 2018

Lessons from Karnataka

Saturday 2 June 2018

by Binoy Viswam

Developments in Karnataka conveyed an important message to the nation. It marked the beginning of the end of the authoritarian rule of the BJP in the country. All secular, democratic and Left forces are expected to draw appropriate lessons from Karnataka. The CPI, being the first political party that has called for a broad platform of secular forces to face the fascist threat, naturally feels proud while evaluating the ups and downs in Karnataka. Those developments indicated the correctness of the CPI’s political line vis-a-vis the fight against communal fascism represented by the RSS-BJP.

During those critical days the BJP heavy-weights were nurturing a dream that Karnataka would become the 19th State in their victory basket. They sincerely believed that enormous amount of black money, pumped by the mining Mafia, coupled with political patronage, offered by the Modi Government, would be sufficient to convert the impossible into a possibility. In a House of 222 the strength of the BJP was only 104, visibly a minority. Then the BJP had the ‘Modi Magic’ with them which was to make the minority into a majority. That magic was ‘successfully’ tried in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya. Their grand design to repeat the same drama in Karnataka was aborted. Their plot to use the Raj Bhavan in Bangalore as the hatchery of unprincipled, communal politics ended in an ignominious failure. Yeddyurappa, their race horse, could remain in power only for 55 hours. Instead of moving the confidence resolution, he had to drive to the Governor to hand over his resignation.

According to the script prepared by the RSS-BJP, they could have availed 15 days for the so-called ‘Operation Lotus’. That was enough for the Modi-Amit Shah duo for managing the game of numbers in their favour. During the last four years in power the BJP leadership have gathered immense experience in manipulation to sustain politics, though they thoroughly failed in fulfilling the promises to the people. Vajpayee used to call this party as the party of truth and dharma! Those are nice-sounding words coined only for propaganda purposes which are to be thrown to the dustbin after use. The BJP has proven itself as the promoter of the ‘use-and-throw’ culture in Indian politics. It was from Hitler’s school that they mastered this ‘art’.

The Karnataka Governor, boasting himself as a swayamsevak, tried his level best to please his masters. Governor Vajubhai Vala, who was the Finance Minister and Speaker in Gujarat, had invited the leader of the BJP who had the support of 104 members ignoring the claim of the Congress-JD(S) combine commanding the support of 117 members. He provided a long period of 15 days to make 104 bigger than 117! Violating precedence the Governor abetted the BJP nominee to become the Protem Speaker foreseeing even the possibility of a casting vote.

None in the BJP expected the Supreme Court to come out with a proactive role. The Apex Court shut down all the possibilities of horse-trading where MLAs are bought as bulls from the bull market. Many a time the judiciary in India have shown the tendency to bow their heads before the political bosses. In the present case of Karnataka the Supreme Court was never on its knee and upheld its constitutional integrity. Disallowing the plea made by the BJP, the Court ordered only 24 hours for Yeddyurappa to prove his majority. This buoyant stand of the Court for the time being has saved democracy. Otherwise the BJP-RSS would have once again murdered democracy as they did in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya, using the consti-tutional office of the Governor. For the timely initiative to keep up its integrity, the Supreme Court needs to be complimented. They have upheld the dignity of the judiciary at a very crucial moment.

With the swearing-in of the Congress-JD(S) alliance leader Kumaraswamy as the Chief Minister, a chapter in the suspense-packed Karnataka politics has now ended. Political observers are keenly watching to find out what the BJP would do to avenge the wounds inflicted during Kumaraswamy’s confidence vote. Some had predicted the possibility of the BJP hijacking certain Congress-JD(S) members before they could reach the House on the crucial day. In the context of present-day politics, people’s will is swallowed by the will of money power. A corporate controlled party like the BJP is likely to go to any extent to avenge their failure. During the confidence motion voting, it is the majority present in the House that becomes most important factor. The BJP had ‘prior experience’ in disquali-fying some of its dissident MLAs that saved the Yeddyurappa Government in 2010. Hence the Congress-JD(S) camp should be ever on vigil to ensure that their MLAs would not cross the floor to find refuge in the BJP camp. Even after the confidence vote, this vigilance is of utmost importance. It is also more vital that the Kumaraswamy Government stands up to meet the urgent needs of the common masses of Karnataka and does not act as a tool in the hands of the Mafia Raj.

The Congress leadership, after a long gap, succeeded in rising to the occasion during those unpredictable days of political chaos in Karnataka. They alerted the Supreme Court on that crucial midnight itself about the nasty games planned by the BJP. The office of the Governor was used without any qualms as an instrument to serve the political moves of the BJP. When the same thing happened in Manipur, Goa and Meghalaya, the Congress was fast asleep. Nobody expected the Congress to wake up in Karnataka so fast and take up the challenge. Their preparedness to offer the chief ministership to the JD(S) also signifies their political maturity to fight the BJP by all means. The question is: how effectively and how far would they be able to continue with the same political vibrancy? Will they move on and take legal steps, though belatedly, in Goa, Manipur and Bihar against the single biggest party being ignored while forming the government in a hung Assembly?

The most crucial political question relates to the perception of the Congress foreseeing the decisive battle in 2019. The pressing task now is to rally the broad spectrum of secular, democratic and Left forces to defeat the main enemy—that is, the RSS-BJP. The happenings in Karnataka, including the swearing-in ceremony, prove that there is no confusion regarding the main enemy and about the need to fight against it. How would the Congress respond to this most important task of building such a broad political co-ordination? With all its mistakes, mainly on economic policy, the Congress is the largest secular party which has presence in almost every part of the country. So their political wisdom and commitment to the secular-democratic cause is being tested in the backdrop of the fight against the RSS-BJP.

At any cost the Sangh Parivar and its anti-people misrule should be ended. Secularism needs to be protected. Hence all those forces who have faith in secularism, democracy, national soverei-gnty and socialist goal should come together. As these ideals are enshrined in the Constitution, this should be treated as a national task. It is high time that all parties start a political inquiry inside their own structures and among themselves to defend the country from the fascist onslaught. The experience of Karnataka gives a new impetus for such a move. It shows that if all the forces committed to this fight are united, the RSS-BJP can be defeated. This is the time to act. Discussions should not end in statements only. They should be aimed at moving the masses in the battle against fascism. 

The author, a former Minister of Forests and Housing in the erstwhile LDF Government in Kerala, is a member of the Central Secretariat of the CPI.

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