Running out of options in the full glare of the Supreme Court and facing inevitable defeat in the event of a trust vote to test his two-day-old BJP government, Karnataka’s new Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa threw in the towel and announced his decision to resign without putting the confidence motion to vote in the Karnataka Assembly on Saturday afternoon.
Yeddyurappa later submitted his resignation to Governor Vajubhai Vala paving the way for the Governor to call a JD(S)-Congress coalition led by former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy to form the new government in Karnataka. Kumaraswamy said that he will take oath as CM on Monday, May 21, after he is called to form the new government by the Governor.
Yeddyurappa, 75, announced his decision to quit after an emotional speech in the Assembly where he promised to work for farmers in the state until his last breath. “The twisted politics of the Congress has thwarted the mandate from the election. I will not take the confidence motion forward. I will be going to the Governor to submit my resignation,” the three-time Chief Minister said at the end of his address to the Assembly.
This was the shortest tenure for Yeddyurappa who was CM for seven days in 2007 when he resigned ahead of a trust vote after the collapse of a BJP-JD(S) alliance to govern the state.
Despite the anticipation of drama in the run-up to the trust vote — its day and time fixed by the Supreme Court on Friday — for the Yeddyurappa government, it was fairly clear — when the Assembly convened — that the Congress-JDS combine had managed to hold on to its legislators amid the threat of poaching by the BJP.
When the House convened on Saturday at 11 am, the 76-MLA contingent of the Congress, which arrived in the morning from Hyderabad where they had been taken for safekeeping, trooped in along with three Independent MLAs. The group exuded confidence that it would win the trust vote despite the absence of two MLAs Anand Singh and Prathapgouda Patil.
The JD(S) contingent of 37 MLAs, who also arrived from Hyderabad on Saturday morning, gave the Congress some jitters by not turning up when the House began proceedings at 11 am. They entered the House en masse a little later amid a visible sigh of relief from the Congress benches – especially among many fence-sitters wondering which way the trust vote would go.
The arrival of the JD(S) contingent showed clearly that the Congress-JD(S) combine had 116 MLAs (76 Congress, 37 JDS and three Independents) on their side and were in a clear majority despite the absence of two Congress MLAs while the BJP had only 104 MLAs on its side.
The entire morning session in the Assembly was taken up for the swearing-in of MLAs. The pro tem Speaker K G Bopaiah, who was under scrutiny after the Congress filed a plea in the Supreme Court against his appointment, administered oaths to several MLAs at a time so that he could meet the Supreme Court’s deadline of 4 pm for the conduct of the trust vote.
One MLA, H D Revanna, the son of former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, was allowed to take his oath on his own after he made a special request for a time slot keeping in line with his beliefs. After the lunch break, three MLAs, who had been missing in the morning oath taking session – Anand Singh and Prathapgouda Patil of the Congress, and G Somashekar Reddy of the BJP — appeared in the house and took their oaths.
The appearance of Anand Singh in the Assembly in the company of Congress leader D K Shivakumar clearly established that the Congress-JD(S) combine would sail through a trust vote. Singh had earlier told Congress leaders that he would wait and watch and would come to the Congress side when he was sure the BJP does not have the numbers to win a trust vote.
The confidence motion stating “this House expresses its confidence in the council of ministers headed by Yeddyurappa,” was eventually moved by Yeddyurappa at 4 pm after all the oaths were taken. After introducing the motion, he, however, announced his decision to quit as CM.
“People have rejected JD(S) and Congress and they know it. They both did not get the mandate and they abused each other and tainted democracy during the election campaign. After losing the election the two parties have indulged in opportunistic politics. The Governor gave us the right to take oath as the single largest party,’’ Yeddyurappa stated.
“People in the state have suffered a lot because of lack of irrigation, drinking water and there have been hundreds of farmer suicides. Till my last breath I will work for the welfare of farmers and the betterment of their lives. After years of Independence, we are unable to safeguard our farmers. The poll mandate was one against the prevailing situation and the election numbers indicate this,’’ the BJP leader said while accusing the Congress-JDS combine of usurping power.
Yeddyurappa said his plans to waive off farm loans, allocate 1.5 lakh crore for irrigation, upliftment of the scheduled caste and tribes had all been thwarted by the Congress-JD(S) combine.
“I had a desire to see the Modi government at the Centre and a Yeddyurappa government in Karnataka. I have faith in democracy. I thought the Opposition would think of the benefits of having one government in the Centre and the state. I will now work to enable Prime Minister Modi win 28 seats out of 28 in Karnataka in the Lok Sabha elections,’’ Yeddyurappa said.
“Whenever elections come, I will be ready. I am leaving now. After the session, I will travel in the state to get public opinion. I know I spoke to a lot you and made promises but the MLAs were all locked up and no one was allowed to contact the MLAs,’’ he said.