The drunken brawl between two Congress MLAs cooped up in the Eagleton resort in Bidadi near Bengaluru, which left one of them injured and hospitalised, should cause not just embarrassment for the party. For, the very fact that the MLAs had to be herded to the resort to beat the BJP’s plan to wean them is embarrassment enough. But, of course, it has become the practice, and the BJP did it, too. It is shocking and shameful that the MLAs stooped to the level of fisticuffs and physical fights in their safehouse. According to reports, Vijayanagar MLA Anand Singh was attacked with a liquor bottle by Kampli MLA JN Ganesh after an argument. The argument related to the plans of some MLAs to move to the BJP camp which, by some accounts, were revealed by Anand Singh. Both MLAs are known to be in the Congress’ rebel camp. There are reports of other differences between them, too.
There are different versions of and explanations for the incident, but none of them bring any credit to those involved in it and their Congress party. Parliament and state assemblies have many times seen riotous scenes and physical fights. They were mostly between members belonging to different parties. But here, the fighting members were both from the same party, though there is an opposition angle because one of the two or even both may have been in communication with the BJP. In fact, the differences between the ruling party and the opposition have all but disappeared, because the same faces move across the political fence with ease. The differences are no longer based on commitment to an ideology and convictions, and the conduct and relationships of legislators have become mostly transactional.
The BJP wants to bring down the Congress-JD(S) government because it wants to prove that this coalition experiment, which carries within it the idea of a coalition government at the Centre after the Lok Sabha election, is inherently unstable. It thinks nothing of inducing defections with offers of money and positions. The Congress and the JD(S) have to protect their government because they want to maximise their returns in the Lok Sabha elections. Unfortunately, these destabilisation and survival games are being played when large parts of the state are affected by drought and there is the need for the government and the MLAs to work to relieve people of their suffering. The Congress, especially, has to prove that a coalition government can work. The Congress-JD(S) arithmetic may look good on paper for the Lok Sabha polls, but it is time they got serious about governance and earned people’s trust.