Karnataka chief minister H.D Kumaraswamy on Thursday ended up fielding questions on the about the stability of the Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) and Congress coalition government on the very day he released a book to highlight the achievements of the first year of his administration.
“We have given many memorable schemes over the past year but all of the focus has been on the stability of the government and its imminent collapse," Kumaraswamy said on Thursday. The chief minister stated that he would ensure that schemes and their benefits reach the people directly when he undertook the ‘Grama Vastavya’ or village visit programme.
The government has found a small window of peace after months of dissent, mostly from within the Congress, that has threatened to adversely impact the stability of the one-year-old alliance government in Karnataka.
Kumaraswamy counted the farmer loan waiver, maintaining fiscal discipline and policies in education, including introducing the English medium in government schools, as some of the highlights of the past year.
The coalition government’s stability has been in question ever since the Congress joined hands with the JD(S) after last year’s hung verdict. The Congress has seen much of the dissent emanate from within its ranks as the party could not accommodate all leaders into the 24 cabinet berths it received as part of the post-poll arrangement. While some threatened to quit the party, a few others were seen getting closer to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been keenly waiting for discord between the traditional rivals to bring down the government.
Several leaders who have lashed out at the Congress, including R.Roshan Baig, who has since been suspended from the party, are seen getting closer to the BJP, thereby affecting the strength of the coalition.
A.H.Vishwanath, the JD(S) state president, on Thursday said it was distressing to see what was happening to Baig. “Siddaramaiah tried similar things with me and I had to leave the Congress. Are you trying to throttle a whole community?" Vishwanath said.
Former chief minister Siddaramaiah has been one of the biggest hurdles for the Kumaraswamy-led coalition as the former is viewed as more interested in settling personal scores with former prime minister H.D.Deve Gowda than keeping the alliance intact.
On Thursday, Deve Gowda said no one should make statements against the coalition.
“We also have dissidence, but we have also left a cabinet berth for an independent. Nobody should make any public statements against the government. This is what I told Rahul Gandhi," Deve Gowda said.
After being routed in the Lok Sabha polls, the two parties are trying to reconcile. In order to contain the dissent, the coalition inducted two independents into the cabinet.
Several leaders from both parties have said that the coalition is hurting both parties. Gowda said the Congress approached the JD(S) for an alliance and that leaders from both sides shouldn’t say or do anything that would hurt the alliance.
But the BJP has gained from the discord between disenchanted workers and leaders of both parties, winning 25 out of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state. Gowda, who also lost from Tumakuru (Tumkur) in the parliamentary elections, said he would focus on the upcoming urban local body elections. “This is not the first time I'm building a party. This is the third time I've lost, and I don't sit at home when that happens," he said.
On Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s One Nation, One Poll proposal, Gowda said there was still a lot of confusion over the issue while Kumaraswamy said that the centre should have bigger priorities.