The opposition really deserved to lose the trust vote in Karnataka. Their behaviour was, to say the least, completely despicable. How could they have stooped so low? Did they think they could have got what they wanted by spiriting away the dissident MLAs to a resort in Goa? Or to Pune, of all places? That would have set a terrible precedent for Indian politics.
Nobody who is anybody goes to Goa these days. Today, even mom and pop businesses ferry their dealers to Bangkok for their annual bash. Company executives spend their time and shareholders’ money rushing from one scenic foreign locale to the other, on the thinly-disguised pretext of attending meetings. And here was Kumaraswamy taking all these eminent folks to Goa. If he had the sense to consult me, I would have suggested Hawaii, or at least Las Vegas. But the JD(S), short for Janata Dal (Stingy), lived up to its name and tried to topple the government on the cheap. Naturally they lost.
Senior politicians are relieved. “Are we worth only a Goa trip?” asked one of them heatedly. “If they had succeeded, next time they may just have taken us to the local hooch shop and tried to buy our votes with a few glasses of arrack. But now, the least I will demand is they take me bungee-jumping in New Zealand.” Others pointed out that Karnataka politicians could learn a thing or two from their brethren in Maharashtra. “See how generous Chief Minister Chavan has been, coughing up R2 crore for a rally. Kumaraswamy should take lessons from him”, said a pot-bellied independent.
To be fair, Yeddyurappa too has displayed a total lack of imagination. He could easily have lured the dissidents with an all-expenses- paid luxury cruise to Antarctica, which would have got them out of his hair for the next six months. Even longer, if he could arrange to get them trapped in the ice there. A month’s profit from the mining business, or a couple of murky land deals, would have been enough to pay the expenses.
Instead, Yeddyurappa seems to have opted for sorcery, with newspapers reporting how a beheaded chicken, blood, a lemon pierced with nails, turmeric, vermillion and other weird stuff topped with an egg were found near the assembly. Both the government and the opposition accused each other of witchcraft, but since the vote went in favour of Yeddyurappa, we all know who did it. What’s more, because it has proved so effective, we’re sure to see an upsurge of interest in voodoo among politicians. The police need to keep a close watch on headless chickens around Parliament.
Actually, the Centre may be to blame for all this, by proposing that mining companies should share 26% of their profits with displaced tribals. That has raised the stakes and shaken up the economics of horse-trading. “The cash we get for voting gets spent, so we too should get a share of the long-term profits, just like the tribals,” pointed out a dissident with a fake degree in economics.
But does the aam aadmi gain anything from all this? Of course we do. We can get ourselves worked up on prime time TV debating questions like “Does India deserve this?” and “Is democracy for sale?”. We can gleefully watch the antics of shirtless legislators jumping on desks and fighting with the marshals for our entertainment. Even state governors spare no effort in trying to amuse us. What more do we want?
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint. The views expressed by the author are personal