Coalition experiments haven’t worked in Karnataka. That much has remained constant in a state reeling from political flux over the past months, if not years. When the BJP defeated H.D. Kumaraswamy’s JD(S)-Congress coalition government at Tuesday’s trust vote, it was the third time in 13 years that a ruling alliance had lost the number game. Now, with former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa back in the driver’s seat, the BJP gets a second shot at ruling Karnataka.
The denouement itself was laced with irony—it was Kumaraswamy who brought down the Congress-JD(S) coalition, headed by Dharam Singh, in 2006 when he led a faction of his party to a pact with Yeddyurappa. Twenty months later, when Kumaraswamy reneged on that pact to transfer power to the BJP, the second coalition fell. This time around, it was a group of rebels that pulled his 14-month-old government down.
The confidence motion got stretched to four days because the allies hung on to the hope that they could win back some of the 16 rebels. In the final headcount, 20 legislators, including a Bahujan Samaj Party MLA, had stayed away from the vote, giving the BJP, with 105 members, a majority in the truncated assembly.
Through the four days of debate, a confident BJP sat quietly in the opposition benches as the JD(S)-Congress fumed over the defectors—they spoke at length about the crores of rupees that were allegedly offered to the rebels who had resigned, and their trips by special flight to Mumbai where they stayed put. “The business of the House is to discuss business,” wryly noted Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar at one point, insisting that every allegation went into the record. “People should know, let everything come out,” he said.
What becomes of the rebels now? There’s a legal aspect, given that they had...