The coordination and monitoring committee set up to help the smooth functioning of the coalition government in Karnataka may finally see the body performing the role it was intended to play.
Political analysts say that the will to survive and mutual fear of being wiped out in the aftermath of the Lok Sabha poll debacle is likely to force coalition partners Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), and Congress to reconcile their differences and revive the body that has largely remained dormant over the past year.
“So far the participation was not wholehearted and it did not take off in the way it should have," Dinesh Gundu Rao, Congress’s state president said.
Set up after the JD(S) and Congress joined hands in Karnataka in May last year, the committee has met only around five times in the last year. During the same period, the H.D. Kumaraswamy-led coalition has faced as many or more threats—some allegedly from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and others from the dissent erupting within the Congress.
The committee’s functions were reduced to mere optics as the political drama played out in either of the two power centres—one headed by former chief minister Siddaramaiah and the other by former prime minister and JD(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda.
That most of the troubles emanating from within the Congress is attributed to Siddaramaiah, the chairman of this committee, is not helping the cause of the crisis-hit coalition government.
Other than Siddaramaiah, the committee has H.D. Kumaraswamy, senior Congress leaders K.C. Venugopal, deputy chief minister G. Parameshwara and Kunwar Danish Ali of the JD(S). Ali has since quit the JD(S) and successfully contested the parliamentary elections from Uttar Pradesh on a Bahujan Samaj Party (BJP) ticket.
Rao said the committee needs expansion to be more effective. A proposal to include the JD(S) and Congress presidents has remained on paper for months now.
Though the two sides had agreed to continue the coalition for the full five-year term, most within the Congress had set the parliamentary elections as the target for the alliance as its primary objective was to join forces and help bring down the prime minister BJP-led government at the centre.
Even the crucial seat-sharing meetings for the parliamentary elections was not held in the coordination committee as Deve Gowda is not part of this body.
Most of the discussions in the forum have been unfruitful since the two sides needed the approval of their respective party presidents before any decision could be taken. Nor has the committee met to discuss cabinet expansions that have the potential to fuel another round of dissent.
Despite the growing and intensifying trouble, the two sides are trying to deal with dissent on their own terms, refusing to use the forum created to address these very anomalies. The two parties share a bitter and bloody past but those leading them now—Siddaramaiah and Kumaraswamy—share an even more tempestuous relationship making the process even complicated.
JD(S) state chief A.H. Vishwanath had lashed out at the coordination committee for failing to bring out a common minimum programme a year after being mooted by the body.
A. Narayana, a political analyst and faculty at the Bengaluru-based Azim Premji University, said the coordination committee was not active to begin with.
He said the alliance partners worked independent of each other.
BJP won 25 out of the 28 parliamentary seats while the JD(S) and Congress coalition was reduced to one seat each, making it a question of survival for the alliance partners.
“Both are threatened and may now be motivated by survival instinct," Narayana said.