Bangalore, June 16 (IANS) Karnataka's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the main opposition Congress are facing the same problem - indiscipline, and it seems this malaise will only worsen as the state is set for assembly polls in less than a year.
That BJP is everything but a disciplined organisation has been proved several times in Karnataka since it came to power for the first time in May 2008.
As it prepares to bid for a second term in office in the face of various scandals its leaders are involved in, the party can only hope that better sense will prevail among its members.
The Congress is yet again revelling in the scenario of one win followed by many losses and severe embarrassments.
Forget adhering to ideals, more and more BJP and Congress members are not even bothered about being loyal to the party. They exhibited this trait in great style in the June 11 elections to the 11 state legislative council seats elected by the legislative assembly members.
Despite the party whip and each member being told to whom they have to vote, 16 legislators -- 12 of the BJP and four of Congress cross-voted. One Congress legislator made his vote invalid.
Though all six BJP nominees got elected, the party had suffer the humiliation of two of them winning on second preference votes, though all should have won on first preference vote.
The BJP has 121 members in the 225-member assembly and each candidate needed 19 votes to win.
The Congress' plight was more shocking. Though it has 71 members and could ensure easy victory for three candidates, it had put up four candidates in the hope of garnering support from five Independents and some cross-voting by BJP and Janata Dal-Secular members.
Of the four, the party had named three as "official" candidates and told its legislators on who will vote for which nominee.
Instead of getting votes of Independents, the party was stunned as one of its "official" candidates, Iqbal Ahmed Saradagi, lost while the fourth "unofficial" Congress candidate M. R. Seetaram sailed through.
More humiliation was in store for both the major parties as JD-S-backed Independent candidate, Bairathy Suresh, won with the highest number of 23 first preference votes.
Clearly the 16 BJP and Congress members who cross-voted had preferred to cast their votes for an outsider than their own party nominees.
The JDS with 26 legislators not only got one of its members elected but benefited from cross voting by BJP and Congress to see the candidate backed by it also win.
The BJP and the Congress can do little with the cross-voters as the election was by secret ballot, though both the parties are now bravely talking of tracking down the "betrayers" to punish them.
The severe embarrassment to Congress came when the party was gung-ho about winning the Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha seat in a by-poll held March this year.
That victory was, indeed, a morale booster for the party as the seat was vacated by BJP's D.V. Sadananda Gowda after becoming the chief minister in August last year succeeding the party's scam-hit first chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.
The Congress had begun to hold forth that the Udupi-Chikmagalur outcome was a pointer to the winds of change blowing in its favour.
Its own legislators have, now, taken the wind out of their party's trumpets, though BJP too is whining that the large scale cross voting should make national political parties "introspect" over the "declining standards in public life".
With its first chief minister himself caught in around a dozen corruption and illegal land scams and another 20 legislators, including some ministers, facing several cases of land grab and kickbacks, state BJP leaders are merely indulging in wishful thinking of "introspection" and "declining standards".
(V. S. Karnic can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)