By Dushyant Shekhawat Jul. 11, 2019
With the matter of their resignations being heard in the Supreme Court today, Karnataka’s rebel MLAs have had the most dramatic quitting saga since Rahul Gandhi’s stepped down as Congress party president. Rahul finally set a political trend, but unfortunately it wasn’t the one he’d hoped for.
The ideal notice period is one where your boss wishes you well on your future endeavours, and you enjoy a reduced responsibility and workload on your way out. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the ordeal that 10 Karnataka MLAs are currently experiencing after their resignations were rejected by the House Speaker, sparking off what can only be described as the Notice Period from Hell.
Some would say the rules of a normal corporate resignation do not apply to state assemblies, but what is this entire situation if not a case of employees being tempted away by rival offers or “personal reasons”? And if you look at this scenario as one where workers are trying to quit their job, then it is without doubt the most dramatic resignation saga to unfold since, well, Rahul Gandhi’s resignation as Congress party president. Rahul finally set a political trend, but unfortunately it was one that hurt his own party’s coalition government.
Coming back to the rebel MLAs, who are trying to quit amid much uproar. Their boss, Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy, doesn’t seem to pay much attention to their resignations and is carrying on with business as usual. Their HR head, the House Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar, has rejected their resignations on the grounds that they were not tendered in the proper format. And their department head, Congress leader DK Shivakumar, has been hounding their footsteps for a meeting even after they fled the state to avoid exactly such an occurrence.
Imagine that. Normally, once you quit a post, you don’t need to leave town for your own safety. If that were the case, Mumbai, with all its freelancers and people who quit their jobs to become food and travel bloggers, would be far less crowded. But out of the 14 (and counting) MLAs from the Congress-JD(S) coalition who tendered their resignations, the Speaker only accepted five. Like every diligent HR head, he also set dates to have exit interviews with the rebel MLAs over the coming days, saying that he would take a final decision on July 17. Politics aside, it has to suck to not be able to quit on your own terms – even if those terms lead to the collapse of an elected government.
Protests against the alleged horse-trading in Bangalore saw former PM Deve Gowda take to the streets alongside other Congress and JD-S leaders.
The Speaker’s refusal to accept their resignations did what Bangalore’s nightmare traffic and polluted lakes could not and drove the MLAs out of town. They relocated to a hotel in Mumbai, from where they wrote to the city’s police commissioner, requesting protection from CM Kumaraswamy and DK Shivakumar, who they claimed were liable to “storm the hotel”. I’ve worked with some scary bosses, but I’ve never felt the need to seek police protection from them.
The Notice Period from Hell didn’t end there. As expected, DK Shivakumar showed up in Mumbai, and accompanied by former MP Milind Deora, attempted to gain entry to the hotel. He made speeches about friendship, divorce, and how nothing in politics is permanent to the gathered media-persons, but his entire spiel could effectively be summed up by a GIF of the kid from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai saying, “Tussi ja rahe ho? Tussi na jao.” He even booked a room in the same hotel, but had his booking cancelled. Shivakumar’s and Deora’s attempt to meet with the cloistered rebels was unsuccessful because they were detained by the police. The entire affair ended with Shivakumar being put on a plane back to Bangalore, because even Maharashtra Police know there’s nothing as awkward as running into your boss when you’re outside the office.
The excitement wasn’t over. The rebels moved Supreme Court over their resignations not being accepted. Protests against the alleged horse-trading in Bangalore saw former PM Deve Gowda take to the streets alongside other Congress and JD-S leaders. Karnataka BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa began a dharna outside Vidhan Soudha, demanding a meeting with the Governor and Speaker to get them to accept the tendered resignations. In all the madness, two more Congress MLAs submitted their resignations. This wasn’t just the Notice Period from Hell for the MLAs who were trying to quit, it was equally torturous for their organisation, the Congress-JD-S coalition government.
Before leaving Mumbai, Shivakumar had stated that he remains confident that the rebel MLAs will return to the fold, but his optimism is probably misplaced.
Today, the Supreme Court will hear the matter of the pending resignations, and the next chapter of this curious story will be written. Before leaving Mumbai, Shivakumar had stated that he remains confident that the rebel MLAs will return to the fold, but his optimism is probably misplaced. The quitting bug seems to be spreading to neighbouring states as well, with 10 Congress MLAs from Goa also defecting to the BJP last night. In this environment, any optimism from Congress personnel seems destined to fail. After all, this is also the party that thought Rahul Gandhi was a capable rival for Narendra Modi, not just once, but twice. Which, now that you think about it, is a pretty viable reason for the MLAs to want to leave.
It has taken the Supreme Court’s intervention to bring the Notice Period from Hell toward its ultimate conclusion. The top court ordered the rebels to resubmit their resignations by 6 pm today, and to meet with the Speaker. Even as the experience draws to a close, what’s certain is that they can take pride in how hard their organisation wanted to keep them on the rolls. Not only did they enjoy the undivided attention of the top brass of Karnataka’s political establishment, they also got a nice resort stay out of the whole business. And in doing so, provided a valuable lesson for India’s workplace culture. If only offices valued employees as much as political parties value their wantaway MLAs, job satisfaction levels in the country would go through the roof.