Karnataka Verdict: Kumaraswamy To Form Government On Wednesday After 3-Day CM Yeddyurappa Resigns
HD Kumaraswamy, chief minister of Karnataka between 2006 and 2008 will return to the role on Wednesday May 23. The Janata Dal Party (Secular) president met Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala at the Raj Bhavan at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday to stake claim to form the next government. The Governor has given the JD(S)-Congress alliance 15 days to prove its majority.
The development comes after a Supreme Court mandated floor test in the Karnataka Assembly did not materalise, as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s BS Yeddyurappa resigned as chief minister just three days after taking oath.
Addressing the press, Kumaraswamy said that he will use his oath-taking ceremony as a platform to bring together all regional leaders, opposed to the BJP. “I have also invited the regional leaders Mamata Banerjee, Chandrababu Naidu, K Chandrashekar Rao and Mayawati for the oath-taking ceremony.”
The JD(S)-Congress combine claims to have the support of 117 legislators — well over the halfway mark in the 221-member Assembly. The BJP has the support of 104 members.
In his speech on the floor of the Karnataka Assembly, Yeddyurappa said that he tried his best to resolve the gamut of problems that the state is facing. He mentioned his Parivartana Yatre (tour for change), a campaign that he had launched ahead of the elections. “I got to visit every nook and corner of the state and stayed in the houses of many deprived sections. This gave me a first-hand experience of what was the prevailing situation,” he said. “People reposed their faith in me, and that was reflected in the mandate that the BJP received.”
Minutes later, Kumaraswamy said in an interaction with the media that he was waiting for an invitation from the Governor. His view was echoed by leader of the Congress’ legislature party and former chief minister Siddaramaiah. “The BJP wanted to come to power by violating the Constitution, but that didn’t happen. This is a victory for democracy.”
Saturday’s developments bring the National Democratic Alliance’s tally of state governments across the country back down to 20. In six months, the BJP faces crucial polls in states that it is the incumbent: Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
In a press conference held after Yeddyurappa’s resignation, Congress President Rahul Gandhi criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying, “The opposition will continue to stand united and defeat the BJP. The prime minister is not larger than the country.” The Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati said that the BJP will now have to rethink and alter its strategy. “I think what they had been planning for 2019 has failed.”
Yeddyurappa, who was sworn in as Karnataka’s 23rd chief minister on May 17, had then said that the BJP was the single-largest party and rightfully positioned to form the next government. “The Congress and the JD(S) have been rejected by the people. I don’t know on what grounds can they unite to form the government,” he said.
The Number Game
Elections to 222 of the 224 constituencies in the state were held on May 12. When the results were announced on May 15, BJP emerged as the single largest party with 104 MLAs, but fell seven short of the half way mark of 111. The Congress and JD(S), which won 78 and 37 seats, respectively, cobbled together an alliance. Kumaraswamy contested on two seats and won both. He will have to vacate one of them, necessitating a by-election.
However, doubts persisted about how long Yeddyurappa would remain in office, given that his front was facing multiple challenges. He referred to the developments as an ‘agni-pariksha’, or a trial by fire. “I have faced many agni-parikshas before. Till my last breath, I will always raise people’s issues and stage protests for Karnataka’s 6.5 crore-odd people,” he said in his speech, which was met with a thundering applause.
Reports suggested that the BJP had reached out to MLAs of Congress and JD(S), to urge them to abstain from attending the House today, in what seemed like a redux of the party’s infamous ‘Operation Lotus’ of 2008 — orchestrated to secure a comfortable majority in the Assembly.
Around five audio clips of telephonic conversations purportedly between BJP leaders and opposition party legislators — in which the former offered berths in the state Cabinet and huge sums of cash — did the rounds in the local media. While the BJP was quick to suggest that the tapes may have been doctored, the opposition said that this was indication of the BJP’s desperation.
Kumaraswamy alluded to this when he alleged that the BJP, desperate to get the numbers on its side, resorted to harassing the relatives of the legislators from the opposition camp.