If someone is looking for an answer as to what will happen in Karnataka after 23 May, when the Lok Sabha poll results will be out, then, they need to stop at only one place - the Twitter handle of former chief minister Siddaramaiah. The prognosis is all there.
The tweets of the former CM, especially after May 1, unravel not just the near conflagrating situation within the ruling Congress-JDS alliance, but also the bickering and insecurities within his own party, the Congress; proclivity for a masked rebellion within the BJP, and the mischief and bravado of the JDS.
In Karnataka, all political parties are in flux, but one wonders if the former CM should have become such an accurate chronicler of the mess that surrounds him. But then, it is best to realise that most mass leaders don’t punch in their words. It is the unthinking swarm around them that dictate puerile reaction, which often covers up for an absence of vision or strategy.
Anyway, in his tweets post-Labour Day, Siddaramaiah speculates on the future of the alliance, sometimes reassuringly, and sometimes mockingly; he defends his claim to the CM’s chair against Kharge, by exploiting the unarresting sibling competition within the Deve Gowda family; he takes on his former colleagues and caste mates and gets into the minutiae of their provocations; he calls a former CM from the BJP by his pedestrian attribute - ‘time-bomb expert’; he brushes aside Yeddyurappa’s unending countdown to get back to the top job, and of course, there is a hug to a growling rival inside the party. There is more, but this should suffice to give a quick picture.
By contrast, the tweets of Yeddyurappa, or Kumaraswamy do not take a deep dive into the political hyperlocal, despite the precipice they stare at. If jockeying for the party president’s slot has led to divisions in the BJP, the JDS is combatting a rebellion, if not an implosion, after the latest moves of dynastic perpetuation. Some may look at Siddaramaiah’s tweets as a continuous game of posturing or gesturing, but what is at the heart of this intense communication?
There are three probable reasons: One, the nature of the Congress-JDS alliance, where interests and demographic base of the two parties overlap, naturally breeds insecurity and encourages sabotage. Add to this, the bitter relationship between Siddaramaiah and the Gowda family. To complicate matters, BJP has made a serious bid for its share in this South Karnataka pie.
The actor Sumalatha’s contest from Mandya is a big entry point. Two, the Congress’ position in Hyderabad, Mumbai and coastal Karnataka has been circumscribed by the BJP’s Lingayat base, and the Hindutva rhetoric. These two points should tell us why the secular alliance’s performance in the LS polls will not be superlative.
Finally, if the Congress vote share is so threatened in all parts of the state, then where will the numbers come for Siddaramaiah, or anybody from Congress, to become chief minister again? Hence, the noise and aggression to at least clear up the home turf of Old Mysore districts. A natural progression in that direction is to quickly gain independence from the alliance with JDS. The other point of anxiety for the former CM could be that a younger leadership in the Congress is almost at the threshold of take over.
The dissolution of the alliance will be postponed if a UPA-led front, or a Congress-supported front comes into being. In which case, if either Siddaramaiah or Kumaraswamy agree to relocate to New Delhi tensions may ease, locally.
But if Modi, or a BJP-led front returns, then the secular alliance will steer into tempestuous weather. The careers of many senior Congress politicians may hit a plateau, and Rahul Gandhi may prefer to rebuild with a new leadership.