In 2018, the Congress quickly moved to cobble up an alliance with the JD(S) to deny the BJP a shot at power. H D Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in as Chief Minister had set the stage for a grand show of strength among Opposition parties, with the Lok Sabha elections less than a year away. Fourteen months on, after surviving several attempts by the BJP to topple the coalition government, Kumaraswamy’s confidence motion was defeated in the House on Tuesday. The government, which had a wafer-thin majority, fell after 16 lawmakers — mostly from the Congress — rebelled. The trust vote itself had dragged on for over six days, including the weekend, with the coalition trying to buy more time in a bid to woo the rebel MLAs back into the fold.
Besides, the Congress and JD(S) shared an uneasy coalition. A precursor to the drama that played out in the last few weeks was the Lok Sabha election debacle. Cracks within the coalition were laid bare during the election campaign trail. They only widened after the BJP won 26 of the 28 parliamentary seats. The picture of unity the Opposition leaders hoped to project last year has now all but faded.
Here is a status check on the opposition leaders who had attended Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in and their ties with the Congress:
Owning up responsibility for the disastrous Congress performance in the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi, on July 3, resigned as party president without naming a successor. In an open letter to Congress workers, he let the rank and file know that “at times, I stood completely alone” while taking on “the Prime Minister, the RSS and the institutions they have captured”.
After the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government in Karnataka collapsed on Tuesday, Gandhi termed the development as “a defeat of democracy and honesty” and said that the “greed” of the BJP had prevailed.
Widely expected to join hands with the Congress for the Lok Sabha elections, BSP Supremo Mayawati had instead come out strongly against the party during the poll campaign. In a surprise decision, she had joined truck with rivals Samajwadi Party but the alliance ended after it failed to dent the BJP prospects in Uttar Pradesh.
Meawnhile, Mayawati expelled her party’s lone MLA in Karnataka, N Mahesh, for abstaining from the Tueday trust vote.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, who was also part of the so-called ‘mahagathbandhan’, Tuesday said that brazen horsetrading and misuse of power in Karnataka is there for all to see. “Whatever may have been the strains in the coalition, the brazen horsetrading and misuse of power in #Karnataka is there for all to see. From the start when BJP tried to prevent formation of this govt, until now, it has been an open display of political immorality and money power,” he tweeted.
He had previously taken responsibility for his party’s dismal performance in the Lok Sabha polls, saying as the chief of the party, he was the “first” person who was accountable for its poor show.
The leader of Opposition in Bihar, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, is facing a leadership challenge after the RJD drew a blank in this summer’s Lok Sabha polls. The RJD and the Congress had fought together in Bihar. While within the family of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, a power tussle is going on between his sons Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, over a dozen MLAs are also reported to be unhappy with Tejashwi’s leadership. His continued absence from the Bihar Assembly hasn’t helped either.
After failing to win a single seat Lok Sabha in Delhi, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is now gearing up for the Delhi Assembly polls which are scheduled for early next year. The Congress and the AAP had bargained hard for over three months to form an alliance in Delhi, but the talks between both the parties broke down.
TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu lost power in Andhra Pradesh and his party also tasted defeat in Telangana when it contested the assembly polls in alliance with Congress.
During the Lok Sabha elections, Naidu had campaigned for the ruling Janata Dal-Secular-Congress alliance in Karnataka. He had also met leaders of different political parties just before the election results to chalk out the next plan of action in case the BJP fell short of majority.
Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav was among the top opposition leaders who actively backed for a third front at Centre. After allying with the BSP for the Lok Sabha polls, Akhilesh, who was very keen on forming alliance with Congress as well, had later said that decision to keep the Congress out of the alliance was taken to correct the poll “arithmetic” in the state. However, after the poor show in the Lok Sabha election, Mayawati dumped the party saying the alliance didn’t help the BSP.
After attending Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had organised a mega rally which was attended by all the opposition leaders. But, Rahul Gandhi chose to skip it. In a separate rally later, Gandhi had attacked Banerjee over issues like “atrocities” on Congress workers, farmers’ problems and unemployment and alleged that she had done nothing for the people except delivering speeches. Reacting to this, Banerjee had called him a “kid”. This had ended any chance of an alliance in Bengal between the Trinamool and Congress. In the end, Banerjee ended up losing ground to the BJP which won 18 seats.
After Congress’s poor show in the Lok Sabha elections, NCP leader Sharad Pawar had expressed the need for Congress’s survival. Pawar also had denied any chance of a merger between the NCP and the Congress. The two parties will now jointly contest in the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly elections.
RLD chief Ajit Singh lost all three Lok Sabha seats it contested in alliance with the SP and the BSP. A day after the SP and the BSP decided to contest alone all 11 seats in the upcoming UP assembly bypolls, their third alliance partner RLD had announced it too will it alone.
IUML national general secretary and incumbent PK Kunhalikutty emerged victorious by more than 2.60 lakh votes, the second biggest margin in the State after Rahul Gandhi’s 4.31 lakh in Wayanad. Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), an ally of the Congress in Kerala and at the Centre, was in the limelight following Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s decision to contest from the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat.
Reacting to the political crisis in Karnataka, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had taken a dig at the Congress, saying the grand old party was giving a helping hand in the saffron party’s membership drive.
“In various states, the people’s representatives and leaders of the congress are joining the BJP. Congress has become a party engaged in increasing the membership of the BJP,” he had said.
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