BENGALURU, May 19:
The three-day-old BJP Government in Karnataka collapsed today as Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa quit minutes before he was to face a floor test to prove his contested majority in the hung Assembly after which the JD(S)-Congress combine led by the regional party’s chief H D Kumaraswamy was invited to take the reins of power.
Capping five days of riveting political and court-room drama, Yeddyurappa announced his decision to quit on the floor of the Assembly after a brief emotional speech rather than face a vote of confidence he was widely expected to lose.
“I will not face confidence vote….I am going to resign,” he told the Assembly at the end of a brief emotional speech bringing the curtains down on his short-lived tenure, two days after he was sworn in.
“Till my last breath, I’ll fight for the farmers. I’ll give my life for people.”
The 75-year-old Lingayat strongman then headed straight to the Raj Bhavan where he handed over his resignation to Governor Vajubhai Vala, a day after he was ordered by the Supreme Court to face a floor test at 4 pm today after it drastically reduced the 15-day deadline set by the Governor for him to prove his majority.
Yeddyurappa’s previous two chief ministerial stints lasted seven days and three years.
Three hours later, Kumaraswamy, 58, drove to the Raj Bhavan for a meeting with the Governor.
Kumaraswamy, the youngest son of JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda, said the JD(S)-Congress combine has been invited by the Governor to form the new Government and that the swearing-in ceremony will take place on May 21.
However, Kumaraswamy later in the evening said the swearing-in would be held on May 23 instead of May 21. He did not give any reason for the change of date.
A JD(S) leader said the swearing-in ceremony date has been shifted to May 23 as May 21 happens to be the death anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was killed in a suicide bombing in Sriperumbudur, near Chennai, in 1991.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting tonight, Kumaraswamy, who became the chief minister for the first time in 2006 at the head of a JD(S)-BJP coalition, said the Governor has given him 15 days to prove the majority, “but we will do it much before”.He also thanked the Supreme Court for the “right directions”.
Though claiming he was “100 per cent” sure about winning the trust vote as the D-day loomed, Yeddyurappa failed to muster support of seven additional MLAs required to ensure the survival of his Government. The BJP with 104 MLAs had emerged as the single largest party but fell short of a simple majority.
He was the lone person to be sworn in on Thursday just hours after the apex court refused to stay the ceremony during a dramatic midnight hearing on a petition moved by the Congress against the Governor’s invitation to the BJP.
The BJP put up a brave face after the resignation with Union Minister Prakash Javadekar saying the party knows how to “respect democracy” while the Congress, the AAP and other opposition parties said the saffron party’s attempt to “subvert democracy” failed miserably. Javadekar also said the Congress was treating an electoral defeat as victory.
Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar claimed that the new Government would not last long as it was an “unholy nexus.”
The Congress, which finished second with 78 seats, moved swiftly and stitched an alliance with the 37-member JD(S), and even backed its leader H D Kumaraswamy for chief ministership, plunging the state into a welter of confusion, with accusations of bribery and poaching flying thick and fast. The newly formed alliance has claimed support of 117 MLAs in the 224-member House with an effective strength of 221.
Buoyed by the turn of events in Karnataka, Congress president Rahul Gandhi hailed the unity shown by the Congress-JD(S) combine and said the opposition parties will work together to defeat the BJP.
At a news conference in Delhi, Gandhi launched a strong attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of authorising “buying off” MLAs and “disrespecting” institutions. Gandhi also said while Modi talks of fighting corruption, “he is corruption”.
Gandhi also said he hoped that the BJP and the RSS would “learn lessons” from the political developments in the southern state.
The Congress, the CPI-M and the NCP also demanded the resignation of the Governor.
Yeddyurappa accused the Congress-JDS combine of forming an ‘opportunistic’ alliance and said the popular mandate had been subverted due to their ‘conspiracy.’
He recalled his struggles as a politician, and said how he helped build the party, which once had just two MLAs. Now it has 104, he said.
“I went to the houses of poor, stayed with them. I have faced trial by fire all my life, but I will serve my people till my last breath,” Yeddyurappa said, his voice choking as he fought back tears.
The 8-term MLA and twice an MP, Yeddyurappa then announced his decision to step down.
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who along with several top party leaders were present during the floor test, thanked the judiciary for preventing “horse-trading” and “protecting the Constitution, democracy and rule of law”.
Earlier in the day, the Congress-JD(S) combine preferred not to press before the Supreme Court for the removal of BJP MLA K G Bopaiah as the pro tem speaker. The Court also ordered live telecast of the floor test to ensure “transparency”. (PTI)
BENGALURU, May 19: