The three-day old Congress-Janata Dal (Secular coalition government in the southern Indian state of Karnataka headed by H D Kumaraswamy is facing a floor test on Friday which it is widely expected to sail through, barring any unforeseeable events, ending the 10-day political uncertainty in the state.
The election for the post of Speaker will precede the vote of confidence, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fielding its candidate S Suresh Kumar to take on senior Congress party leader Ramesh Kumar.
With the numbers game tilted in favour of the coalition, 58-year old Kumaraswamy looks to be sitting pretty to win the trial of strength.
Kumaraswamy was sworn in as chief minister on Wednesday with a galaxy of leaders of non-BJP parties in attendance.
The Congress has 78 MLAs, Kumaraswamy’s JD(S) 36, and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) 1.
The alliance has also claimed support of the lone KPJP MLA and an Independent. Kumaraswamy had won two seats.
This is the second floor test in less than a week after BJP strongman B S Yeddyurappa had stepped down last Saturday, two days after he assumed office as the chief minister, without going through the motions of a floor test.
The 224-member Assembly has an effective strength of 221, as election for Jayanagar seat was countermanded following the death of the BJP candidate, and deferred in RR Nagar over allegations of electoral malpractices.
The Congress and JD(S) MLAs who have been confined to a hotel and a resort fearing poaching attempts by the BJP were brought in buses to the Vidhana Soudha, the seat of state legislature.
After taking oath, Kumaraswamy had voiced confidence about winning the floor test, but said he had an apprehension that the BJP would try to repeat “Operation Kamala” to bring down his government.
The term “Operation Kamala” or “Operation Lotus” was coined in 2008, when Yeddyurappa took over as the chief minister.
The party was short of three MLAs for a simple majority.
As part of “Operation Kamala”, named after the BJP’s election symbol lotus, some Congress and JD(S) MLAs were persuaded to join the saffron party, relinquish their membership of the Assembly, and re-contest elections.
Their victory made up for the shortfall in numbers.
Suresh Kumar, a fifth term MLA, has said that based on the strength of numbers and various other factors, his party leaders have confidence that he would win.
The BJP is the single largest party in the Assembly with 104 MLAs.
Kumaraswamy will likely have a smooth sailing during the confidence vote but expanding the ministry may be a ticklish and complicated issue with signs of inner contradictions within the coalition already surfacing.
Senior Congress leader D K Shivakumar, who was widely credited with having kept the flock of party MLAs together amid claims of attempted poaching by the BJP, is reportedly not happy after being ignored for the deputy chief minister’s post that went to the party’s Dalit face G Parameshwara.
“Is it the same for those who win one seat and those who win the state? I have not come to politics to take sanyas. I will play chess not football,” Shivakumar had said.
In an indication of the tough challenges ahead for Kumaraswamy, deputy chief minister and KPCC president G Parameshwara said on Thursday that the coalition was yet to discuss the tenure of the JD(S) leader as the chief minister.
“We have not yet discussed those modalities,” he had said in response to a question about whether Kumaraswamy will be the chief minister for full five years.