Kar-'nataka': Yeddyurappa's swan song? And did democracy really win?

Last Updated: Mon, May 21, 2018 14:04 hrs

The Supreme Court ordering a floor test on Saturday scuppered the BJP's attempts to form the government despite clinching only 104 seats in Karnataka.

After all that drama, follows the relative calm.

The Congress-JD(S) alliance will now form the government in the state and HD Kumaraswamy will take oath on Wednesday.

Governor Vajubhai Vala and his actions have understandably come for heavy criticism.

Rajeev Dhavan, senior advocate in the Supreme Court of India, in a column for The Wire, wrote that the governor was never expected to be fair –

"Having failed on all fronts, the BJP turned to its governor to deliver victory. Governor Vajubhai Vala is a party man in every sense. No one really expected him to be fair. Not after the experience of Goa and Manipur last year. Governors should go though “confirmation” hearings after consultation. This is a question of principle even if it is true that the rot set in with the Congress," he underlined.

The post-elections scene in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya last year were similar to those in Karnataka. In Goa, even though the Congress was the largest party with 17 seats, the BJP did not waste time in pursuing post-poll alliances and formed the government.  Dhavan suggested that to avoid similar situations in the future, the apex court should lay down clear principles:

"The Supreme Court now has an opportunity to lay down principles which have evaded the polity so far and permitted constitutional abuse. Normally, it should not require a Supreme Court to do this. But in India it has to, because the integrity of electoral democracy is at stake," he wrote.

The Supreme Court's handling of the case and its timely intervention was commended. But Sruthisagar Yamunan in the Scroll warned that "this one case should not be seen as the remedy for all the troubles the court has gone through in the last few months. The questions of institutional independence raised by four senior judges of the court in a press conference on January 12 remain unaddressed."

The Indian Express in its editorial observed that the message to take away from last week is that institutions will eventually win when numbers don't add up for any party:

"This episode had all but seceded from the main event of the mandate, the most transparent test of strength in a system that calls itself democratic. It could even be argued, then, that democracy in a multi-party system itself allows for a political cut-and-paste if the assembly is hung, and that the brutal game of thrones in Karnataka was part of the design, not outside of it," the paper observed.

As the the swearing in takes place on Wednesday and the work of forming the government and governing begin in earnest, the institutions will need to take stock.

"For the BJP, Karnataka must be sobering, and not just because it lost the chance to form government. As the single largest party in the assembly, it had possibly the strongest claim, but its attempt to commandeer all institutions and spaces in making it, has been rightly thwarted.

"The political challenge of crafting an alternative to the BJP that appeals to the people, speaks to their imagination and aspirations, still lies ahead. The Congress would be deluding itself if it thinks that some deft thrusts and jabs and a hardly-thought through alliance put together in Karnataka backrooms shows the way ahead to 2019," the editorial underlined.

All this in the backdrop of a report that the BJP was undone by its own inner-party rivalries, as highlighted by former Outlook Editor-in-Chief Krishna Prasad in this tweet:

Another ex-Outlook hand and keen Karnataka politics watcher Sugata Srinavasaraju termed this Yeddyurappa's farewell performance:

So, was it a victory for democracy as many believed it to be? Veteran commentator Yogendra Yadav's sobering rejoinder to an enthusiastic Barkha Dutt had many valid observations: