Game of thrones has begun in Karnataka: how did Bengaluru react?

From 'twinkling star' Yeddyurappa to a shining ‘Kumaranna’, the power equation changes in Karnataka. We trace the mood in Bengaluru, from the results day to the oath-taking ceremony of Kumaraswamy.

“Modi Modi! Modi Modi!”

“Twinkle twinkle little star, Yeddyurappa superstar!”

Activists belonging to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) kept chanting and demonstrating, even as the initial trends showed BJP leading in 112 and more seats, on the counting of Karnataka Vidhan Sabha Elections 2018, on May 15, 2018. 

The members were ecstatic about their party’s perceived majority. Temple Street in Malleshwaram, where Jagannatha Bhavan, BJP’s State Headquarters is located, was full of a sea of flags. Cardboard cutouts of Modi and Yeddyurappa were raised and the party members danced with pride and joy, leading to road blockage near the office.

The Karnataka Vidhana Sabha election was held on May 12th, 2018 and the counting was conducted on May 15th.  BJP was confident of achieving the magic number required to form the government.

“No evil can ever be victorious and they will be banished if they are evil,” said Girish, a BJP member.

When asked about what citizens can expect, Sampath, a member of BJP said: “The first system we will change is Law and Order. We will make sure that people who commit crimes such as sexual abuse of women, will definitely be punished.”

Saarika Rao, another BJP member, vowed to make the city a safer place for women.

Ramesh, an auto driver was thrilled with BJP’s results as he thought Modi has done a spectacular job with the Central Government. He feels that Karnataka will prosper with the governance of BJP. He said, “BJP’s win is the poor people’s win!”

Businessman Raju exclaimed: “Demonetisation and Make in India were wonderful projects started by Modi. I think the BJP Government will come up with many schemes that will benefit the state.”

However, not everyone felt happy with the result. Satish, a shopkeeper  thought Kumaraswamy’s leadership would’ve been more suitable for Karnataka especially Bengaluru, as he believes that there is no space for Kannadigas to live as this cosmopolitan city is overflowing with non-kannadigas. “That does not mean we should deport anyone from the state, but we must make sure to control the entry of many non-residents.”

Nasriya, an MBA student feels Congress would’ve been a better fit for Karnataka. However, she hoped for the best from BJP. “Congress has made an effort to assist the poor and made recognisable changes in the city. I think they would’ve done wonders if they were elected again.”

An undergraduate Arts student from Christ University, Meril Kurien Varghese was said: “Due to BJP coming into power now, there may be more restrictions on the night life in Bengaluru. It would be no surprise if there’s a beef ban as well. Girls will probably be restricted more especially regarding clothes and curfews.”

JDS office sported an empty look on May 15,2018. Pic: Poojitha Kowligi

After witnessing the exciting celebration at the BJP Headquarters, we made our way to the JDS and Congress Offices, only to find them mostly abandoned. A few workers were evidently upset about the results but still held on to a ray of hope and said, “It’s not over yet!” Nonetheless, it seemed to be quiet.

KPCC office almost deserted, on May 15, 2018. Pic : Poojitha Kowligi

Two swearing-in ceremonies and the aftermath

Indeed, it hadn’t been over by then. The drama would unfold and continue for a few more days. Final numbers of Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S), Indian National Congress (INC), and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were 38, 78, and 104 respectively. The fall out was more dramatic than the regular daily soap operas, as no party crossed the magic number 113.

BJP vouched to form the government with B S Yeddyurappa as the Chief Minister and prove their majority. On the other hand, INC and JDS decided to join forces and went to the governor with a plea to run a Coalition Government with H D Kumaraswamy as their Chief Minister.

The governor of Karnataka, Vajubhai Vala, invited the single largest party BJP to form the Government, and gave them 15 days to prove their majority. Congress and JDS approached the Supreme Court at midnight to stop the oath-taking ceremony. The Supreme Court allowed Yeddyurappa to proceed with the oath-taking ceremony but reduced the time period to prove majority from 15 days to 24 hours in the floor test on 19th may, 4 pm.

B S Yeddyurappa was sworn in on the May 18th, 2018 as the Chief Minister of Karnataka for the third time. But he resigned after giving an emotional speech in the assembly the next day, as he wasn’t confident enough to prove the numbers on the floor of the house. The Congress and JDS MLAs had been ‘protected’ from being ‘poached’ by the BJP, by keeping them in resorts and moving from place to place, and the ultimate result was that all of them stood together.

H D Kumaraswamy finally took the oath as the Chief Minister of Karnataka heading the INC-JD(S) coalition government on 23rd May 2018. G Parameshwar from INC, took oath as the deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka.

Pic courtesy: KPCC/JDS

“This coalition government (Congress-JD(S)) will run better than any single-party government. We will concentrate on working for the public. We have decided to work together for the betterment of the state,” said H D Kumaraswamy, in the press meet after his oath-taking ceremony. He allayed the rumours of a weak coalition, by stating that both the parties will stick together, come what may.

A game that didn’t please many

Some people are still skeptic. Vinod, a civil engineer, said: “The coalition Government will not run for a long time. Everybody knows what happened with the last coalition government. I was really hoping BJP will rule but alas, it didn’t happen. I don’t really see any good schemes or policies coming up from Kumaraswamy. He didn’t do well the last time he was the CM, so there is no positive outcome I could expect from him. I’m just praying and hoping for the best.”

But, not everyone agrees with the opinion that BJP would have done wonders for the state. Maneesh P Naidu, a student, thinks Kumaraswamy’s leadership is more suitable for Karnataka as JD(S) is the only party to give importance to the poor, especially the farmers. He said: “The present Government should waive loans for farmers to avoid suicides.”

Pic courtesy: KPCC/JDS

A large number of people are really worried about the turnout of political events. “This year’s election looks like some college election. Everything is run with money. Looks like our votes don’t matter at all. BJP got majority but didn’t come to power. Congress was far from crossing the 113 seats but despite that they are in power. And lastly, the party with the least number of seats got to be the Chief Minister,” said Vinith Shankar, a mechanical engineer.

“I am very unhappy with the politicians’ attitude. It’s no more a democracy,” exclaimed a documentary filmmaker, Ashfaq Ahmed from Kormangala.

JDS workers celebrated across Bengaluru with crackers and rallied while mikes blared custom-made songs dedicated to ‘Kumaranna’, even when H D Kumaraswamy appealed to his fans for an eco-friendly celebration with no flex, buntings, cutouts or crackers.

Local TV channels declared that ‘Kumara Parva’ had begun, while national TV channels started making predictions for 2019 election, as non-BJP leaders from across the nation gathered together for the occasion.

Pic courtesy: KPCC/JDS

However, all isn’t well. Many INC and JD(S) leaders have expressed their displeasure with this alliance. If the differences persist and the centre cannot hold it together, things might fall apart. The coalition might collapse, bringing BJP back into the picture. It’s going to be a tightrope walk.

The coalition government will face its first test tomorrow, in the form of trust vote. How the coalition holds together later, and for how long, remains to be seen.

Note: Ravika Chandra and Poojitha Kowligi, interns from Christ University, put this story together, with videos and ground report. Shree D N also contributed to the story.

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