The swearing-in of H D Kumaraswamy as the chief minister of a coalition government of the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress was not among the most probable scenarios envisaged before the assembly elections in Karnataka. But both parties accepted the imperative of the JD(S) leading the more numerous Congress in the government, recognising the threat posed by the BJP. Kumaraswamy has now been sworn in with G Parameshwara as the deputy chief minister, but the full ministry is yet to take shape. Once the issues relating to the ministry formation are over, the new government will have to give full attention to governance. The anti-BJP platform on which it was formed will not help it deliver governance. It will have to work on the basis of a positive agenda based on people’s needs and aspirations. The two parties have decided to draw up a common minimum programme to which the government should be committed.
The new government has many challenges before it. These range from personal to political to even social. There are differences and rivalries at the personal level between the leaders of the two parties. They have politically fought against each other all along, except during a brief period which itself ended in rancour. They have different social bases, though these are not totally exclusive of each other. But governments formed by such parties have not only survived but done well, too, if they were committed to a common cause, had mutual understanding and were accommodative of each other’s views and positions. The JD(S) and Congress have an opportunity for that and they should not squander it as they did the last time they came together. The parting of ways then did not help either of them. They should also not be complacent because the BJP, which made a tactical retreat after suffering humiliation last week, can still pose a threat. But the fact that it has a clear mandate and high popular support — together, the two parties obtained a 56.3% vote-share — should make the government politically and morally strong.
The alliance also has a national import and significance. That is clear from the presence of a phalanx of non-BJP leaders from across the country at the swearing-in on Wednesday. It is difficult to predict whether the Congress-JD(S) alliance will become a template for a wider anti-BJP platform at the national level before the next Lok Sabha elections. There are other plans and models also being discussed and worked out. But it is certain that the working of this government and alliance will be closely watched not only by the people of the state but by the entire nation, too.