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Last Updated : Jul 09, 2019 04:50 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

In Other Words | Everybody loves a fragile coalition government

It’s not clear whether the coalition in Karnataka will survive this scare; but, what’s clear is that coalition governments in future need to be prepared to tide over ‘resort politics’.

Viju Cherian @VijuCherian

The Congress is in a crisis. Well, that’s old news now. So is the news that its coalition government with the Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka is on shaky grounds. Over the weekend, after 13 MLAs submitted their resignation to Governor Vaijubhai Vala, the Congress-JD(S) government’s status was upgraded from precarious to suspended animation.

No sooner did the news of the resignations come than it was known that the MLAs had lodged themselves in a hotel in Mumbai. Now if you thought that the MLAs went to Mumbai to study how not to prepare a city for the monsoon rains or to fetch the flood water and pour it over Bengaluru’s frothing Bellandur Lake, you’re wrong. They probably were watching the political uncertainty they created on TV screens with a pina colada in hand.

Now the rains in Mumbai are a dampener. Perhaps, the MLAs complained that the pina colada was bland if it was not enjoyed by the poolside with the sun shining bright. Late night reports suggested that 14 MLAs (13 party MLAs and one independent) were on the way to Goa where the sun, sand and sea will lift their spirits.

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Now Karnataka Chief Minister and JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy’s sense of justice must be appreciated. When he realised that some of his MLAs were chilling out at a resort, he decided to extend the courtesy to his other MLAs and have taken them to a resort near Nandi Hills on Bengaluru’s outskirts.

It’s not clear if the Congress will come out of this crisis and when; it’s also not clear whether the coalition will survive this scare; but, what’s clear is that coalition governments in future need to be prepared to tide over ‘resort politics’.

If about three decades back Indian politics got accustomed to the idea of coalition politics, today resort politics is the new reality. Resort politics can be defined as that political exercise where a coalition government, which does not have a comfortable majority in the House, at regular intervals sends its legislators to hotels and resorts to pamper them and remind them of their allegiance to the ruling coalition. The corporate equivalent to resort politics is called a retention bonus. So, when it is there in other sectors, why single out politicians — especially the ones who have decided to serve the people who have elected them!

Now, many might look down upon it, but I feel that resort politics is the best thing to happen to India democracy after Anna Hazare’s protest against corruption, which got over in 2011 (the protest, not corruption).

In the years to come resort politics will be an integral part of our electoral folklore and parties that do not ace it will continue to warm the opposition benches in the House. As resort politics is here to stay, here are a few points that will help politicians, government and businesses stay ahead of the curve:

One, political parties need to adapt to the demands of resort politics. Hereon, every regional party chief or the local leader of a national party must either own a resort or should have identified and struck deals with resorts in the case of an emergency. During election for pivotal posts in the party, weightage must be given if the candidate owns a resort. Politicians with allied businesses, such as bus services, private aircraft, security services, etc. get preference.

Two, taking into account the economic impact resort politics could have, government, if required, must pass legislation that resort politics is practised only during the off season for tourism. This will ensure that during peak season business is not affected. After all, tourism is a big industry in India and anything that upsets it should be avoided. Moreover, a legislation will also ensure business during the off season. The Narendra Modi-led BJP should take the lead on arriving at this consensus. If need be, an all-party meet must be convened. Along with pressing for ‘One Nation, One Poll’, the government should slip in this clause as well. This should be of special interest to tourism minister Prahlad Singh Patel.

Three, resort politics is a godsend for the tourism industry. Government can announce tax-exemptions or other rebates for resorts that have special ‘resort politics’ packages. Come to think of it, anything that aides the smooth functioning of resort politics is strengthening democracy. Hotels and resorts can, in turn, offer attractive packages to lure in the ruling party MLAs. Signal jammers, dedicated satellite lines connecting party headquarters, note-counting machines in every room, etc. could help resorts win the deal. Businesses could even think of holding ‘Tax Haven Investment Consultancy Fairs’ while the MLAs are housed in their resorts. The business possibilities are aplenty.

As the probability of coalition government’s rise so will resort politics. It’s only a matter of time before someone does a doctoral thesis on resort politics. The thesis could be named: ‘Everybody Loves A Fragile Coalition Government’.

For more Opinion pieces, click here.

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First Published on Jul 9, 2019 03:45 pm
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