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Kashmir’s BJP-PDP Holy Alliance Took 49 Days, Goa Still Has No CM, No Finance Minister. So, Is Karnataka’s Cabinet Delayed By Two Weeks The Problem, Or Something Else?

A jittery BJP is numbed by what they would want to portray as a ragtag coalition.

Deadlines are generally good.

In politics too. Prime Minister KP Oli of Nepal, has given his ministers six months to learn to operate the laptop. If not, they will be sacked, he told them categorically at the 12th general convention of Nepal National Teachers’ Organisation in Kathmandu.

The ideal of efficiency is essentially a time saving or minimising ideal. Be efficient, get it done at the earliest possible time.

By the same yardstick, after the JD(S) and Congress, apart from securing a clear number of majority seats in the Vidhan Souda, also got between them an overwhelmingly 56.3% of the vote-share. Karnataka is theirs, a commendable and hard-fought, strategised victory, secured in the face of the Command and Control structure of the BJP, which deployed its Central ministers, mining barons, the governor of the state appointed by them and also senior government law officers as party counsels in the Supreme Court to somehow form a government in the state. The appointment of the pro-tem speaker was also a motivated one, picking one already having strictures against him issued by the Supreme Court, for precisely having tried to subvert the people’s mandate in an earlier instance, as Speaker.

But after the swearing-in of the Chief Minister and his Deputy, is the criticism valid, to make that “there is no government” in Karnataka?

Mockery by Sangh sympathisers has started, as Congress President Rahul Gandhi has left the country to accompany his mother, the Chairperson of the UPA on her medical examination, that Cabinet formation has been ‘unduly’ delayed.

So what is it that is being held up, as the Karnataka Cabinet remains to be constituted?

And what is the ideal time to constitute a Cabinet?

First of all, the Constitution is silent on it. If anything, the restrictions, as per law are on the size of the Cabinet, not for not constituting one, right away. In the state of Uttar Pradesh, CM Kalyan Singh had nearly a hundred in his cabinet. Uttar Pradesh residents would testify that it did absolutely nothing to enhance work, efficiency or the credibility of the government there at the time.

So is the ideal time that defined by what the ruling party, the BJP set out as it tried to “form a government” in Jammu and Kashmir, by hook or by crook, aligning with the party it singularity spewed venom against, the Mufti-led, ‘soft-separatist’ PDP? It took 49 days, a spell of Governor’s rule in one of India’s most sensitive states to form a government.

The Centre has set out commendable standards of the idea of eternity that lingering or not deciding over long spells of time gives a nation of philosophers. Witness, the fact that there is still no full-time Finance Minister and there has not been one for months. This is apart from the time when the Finance Minister doubled as the Defence Minister, the de-facto Law Minister and the Spin Master-in-Chief. The Economy in peril, that was perhaps the gold standard with how much time does it take to have a full-time Finance Minister. To date, the Party Treasurer has been handed the keys to the nation’s treasury. We still await a hands-on full-time Finance Minister.

The state of Goa (another fine example of dubious wresting of power away from the single-largest party after elections held there a year ago) is headless. The Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has left for treatment abroad and left a motley group in charge, not a Chief Minister. It has been a long wait, since March 7. For weeks before that too, Chief Minister was not in the office. It is his right and may he be in the pink of health. But to not ensure the government is up and running has been a disservice to India.

Karnataka would have done well as a general principle to swear in a Cabinet quickly. But the Chief Minister has ensured that work gets going, on the biggest of priorities, the outstanding Rs 53,000 cr farm loan (from national banks and cooperatives) in the state. On Tuesday, he met representatives of 30 farmer organisations and promised a waiver in two phases, within a fortnight.

The idea is to mock at whatever the Karnataka government might do and make all coalitions look unviable. A jittery BJP is numbed by what they would want to portray as a ragtag coalition. But the JD(S)-Congress, getting their act together and despite looking like a circus, working like an army to rapidly agree and challenge the BJP’s nefarious plans to overrun the mandate is the real challenge to the BJP’s image management exercise. To mock at a fifteen-day postponement of the Cabinet formation is explained by that basic instinct.

What is intriguing is that while the Chief Minister and the Deputy are in place, there was so much uncertainty about the Opposition in the state. The two BJP leaders, the opposition leader in the House, BS Yeddyurappa and B Sriramulu, the other high-profile leader. (BS Yeddyurappa was even sworn in for 55 hours trying to push him to form a government against all rules and conventions) remained listed as MPs on the Lok Sabha site till Tuesday, May 30. More than 12 days after the Lok Sabha Speaker accepted their resignations!

Yeddyurappa may have spent just 55 hours as Chief Minister, but the Governor (an old and close friend of the BJP high command) gave him the luxury of exactly a fortnight to ‘prove’ his majority. This, when other claimants with MLAS and signatures continued knocking at the door of Governor Vala to no avail.

That fortnight got relatively little attention from the BJP-friendly commentators, singing praise for the “Atal Behari Vajpayee-like move of Yeddyurappa.”

Miss Chamko sings, reads and writes occasionally; is concerned about the political environment, and the armaments race. Is passionately fond of Cats and Operas. Played Squash once with Jahangir Khan. 

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