Kumaraswamy govt completes 100 days today amid coalition stress
The Congress and the JD(S) have been bickering over several issues, including the transfer of government officials
Bengaluru: The H.D. Kumaraswamy-led coalition government between the Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), and the Congress in Karnataka completes 100 days in office on Thursday, a period marked by a focus on the yet-to-be-implemented farm loan waiver and keeping a lid on dissidence in the rank and file.
“Our coalition government completes 100 years tomorrow,” deputy chief minister G.Parameshwara of the Congress said before quickly correcting the duration. The gaffe, however, seems apt given the difficulty it has faced from the start.
Having joined hands in order to keep out the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the coalition has so far had more to fear from within itself than from the outside, political analysts said.
“Kumaraswamy has been caught between managing the coalition within his party and between parties,” A.Narayana, political analyst and faculty at the Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, said. The chief minister has to balance the aspirations of his family who include former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda and public works department (PWD) minister H.D. Revanna, with that of the Congress.
The two alliance partners have been bickering over several issues, including the transfer of government officials, which the JD(S) has historically undertaken in an alleged bid to make the bureaucracy more pliable.
The hurriedly presented second budget on 5 July that favours the southern region of the state, from where the JD(S) draws support and seats, also saw parts of the north, home to some of the most arid and backward regions in the country, renew demands for separate statehood.
The other spanner in the works is former chief minister Siddaramaiah, whose tempestuous past with the JD(S), and disagreement over presentation of a second full budget have added to the troubles of the current administration.
The Congress and JD(S) have announced that they will fight the 2019 Lok Sabha elections together and analysts said the success of the plan would depend on how long the government in Karnataka lasts.
Narayana said the major focus of the government has been on farm loan waiver which he describes as a “promise made in a hurry”, that is difficult to implement. Kumaraswamy has announced a farm loan waiver of around ₹40,000 crore and passed the ‘Karnataka Debt Relief Bill 2018’ to ease the financial burden on small farmers, agricultural labourers and other weaker sections of society, in the hope that the coalition would get the backing of the farming community in the upcoming urban local body (ULB) polls and the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
“The government is living as if it will end tomorrow,” said Narendar Pani, political analyst and faculty at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS)
“The kind of maturity that was visible when he was CM for the first time (2006) is not visible this time,” Narayana said referring to coalition management.
Kumaraswamy, who refers to himself as ‘Sandarbika Shishu’ (child of circumstances), has more often displayed his helplessness than contain the dissenting voices that could damage the prospects of the alliance.
Though the coalition government has reiterated its commitment to continue the existing arrangement for the entire five years, the under-pressure CM, some say, may need to embark on another set of visits to temples and monasteries as has been his practice so far in the last 100 days.
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