Even BJP leaders possibly never expected Karnataka’s saffron sweep. An emphatic win of 25 out of the state’s 28 Lok Sabha seats which trampled several veteran politicians—H.D. Deve Gowda, Mallikarjuna Kharge, K.H. Muniyappa--to push open the ‘gateway to the South’ even wider. The irony of the BJP victory couldn’t have been more stark—May 23 also marked Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s first anniversary in office.
The big question is—can Kumaraswamy’s Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress coalition government hold together? Already, old faultlines within the coalition—ones papered over until elections—have shown up in the last couple of weeks as Congress and JD(S) leaders squabbled openly. “It is up to the Congress-JD(S) to spell out what they will do next,” former CM and BJP strongman B.S. Yeddiurappa told reporters. “We will wait and watch,” he said.
For Yeddiurappa, revenge is sweet. He had hastily—and unsuccessfully—tried to form the government when the 2018 Karnataka assembly elections threw up a hung assembly even though the BJP didn’t have a majority. Besides, the scenario a year ago was framed in a very different context: at Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in, political leaders from across the spectrum—Mayawati, Mamata, Chandrababu Naidu, Akhilesh Yadav, Sitaram Yechury—descended on Bangalore to back the Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress coalition, and by extension, the idea of a mahaghatbandan.