A year after the Reddys tried to pull the rug from under Yeddyurappa’s feet and nearly did, yet another challenge to the stability of the government has been mounted, as usual from within the BJP, but with tacit encouragement from the two main Opposition parties. Nineteen MLAs, including seven ministers, have withdrawn support to the government sparking the crisis. The rebels have made a spurious claim for moral high ground providing their revolt the rationale of ‘lack of development’ and the continuance of corrupt ministers in the government. But in actuality, the objective of the attempted putsch is predictable. It is aimed at ensuring the continuance of some ministers who were afraid of losing their places in the cabinet and at armtwisting the chief minister to accommodate some of the rebels in his cabinet, or alternatively, provide them with some lucrative chairmanships of the semi-autonomous boards that successive governments have created to pacify the dissatisfied MLAs.
The revolt in itself is a symptom of a debilitating disease that the body politic in Karnataka is suffering from. Over the past few years, the moral standards of elected representatives in the state have degenerated drastically. The anti-defection law has not been able to check the rampant horse-trading and hocking of loyalty. Nor for that matter, the changes in the electoral laws have been able to stem the entry of the corrupt and corruptible into public life. The enormous power that MLAs and the ministers command is attracting the dregs of society to politics. While it is easy to blame the voters for electing such persons, one has to look at the broader picture to find the source of the malady. Certain undesirable aspects of the liberalisation of the economy, chiefly the rejection of service motto and altruism and placing money as the raison d’etre of individual and society had to have its consequences on public life. With wealth replacing learning and service as a virtue, it was inevitable that society at large would some day accept passively and unquestioningly, the pursuit of power and wealth as legitimate, even desirable goals. That explains the acutely worrisome public tolerance of the contemporary sordid politics.
Whether the leaders of the attempted coup succeed in their objective will be known over the next few days. It is also of little significance as to who wins or loses, since it is certain that the losers are the people of Karnataka.