Hours after the Supreme Court declined to stay his swearing-in ceremony, BJP legislature party leader BS Yeddyurappa took oath as the Karnataka chief minister on Thursday even as the development created ripples in Goa, Bihar, Meghalaya and Manipur. Citing the Karnataka ‘model’, Congress units of Goa, Meghalaya and Mizoram said they would approach respective state governors to stake claim to form the government by virtue of being the single largest party. RJD, which is the single largest party in Bihar with 80 MLAs, also reiterated the same idea and Tejashwi Yadav said they would meet the governor on Friday as well as hold a day-long agitation to protest against “the murder of democracy in Karnataka”.
With a three-judge Supreme Court bench to continue hearing the Congress’ petition on Friday, the Grand Old Party called Yeddyurappa a “one day chief minister”. “BS Yeddyurappa will prove to be a one day chief minister and half the day is already gone,” quipped Congress national spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, hours after the 75-year-old leader was administered the oath of office by Governor Vajubhai Vala, who controversially invited him to form the government late Wednesday night despite BJP falling eight seats short of majority.
Attired in his trademark white safari suit and a green shawl draped around his shoulders, Yeddyurappa took the oath in the name of god and farmers amid loud chants of “Modi, Modi” at a low-profile ceremony at Raj Bhavan. The tension in the air was palpable as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who mostly attends all swearing-in ceremonies, and BJP chief Amit Shah conspicious by their absence.
“I am sure of winning the vote of confidence and my government completing five years,” Yeddyurappa, who has been given 15 days time to prove his majority on the assembly floor, said. Even as Yeddyurappa was taking oath at Raj Bhavan, Congress and JD(S) leaders converged at Mahatma Gandhi’s statue near Vidhana Sauda, the state secretariat, to protest against the governor’s decision. “Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi is misusing his office. The governor’s action is undemocratic and unconstitutional and he is indirectly encouraging horse-trading,” former CM Siddramaiah said.
Congress said it would observe “Save Democracy Day” on Friday, with party workers and leaders holding protest marches at all district and state headquarters to protest over the manner in which “democracy was subverted” and the “Constitution was trampled” by the Karnataka Governor.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi led the attack against BJP from Chhattisgarh, where he was attending a ‘Jan Swaraj Sammelan’, and asserted that the present situation in the country was similar to that of Pakistan. Gandhi further said that every democratic institution in the country was being suppressed by the BJP and RSS. “The Constitution is under severe attack in the country… In Karnataka, the MLAs are on one side and the Governor on the other and you know what attempt is being made,” he said.
Moments later, in a reposte, Amit Shah accused Congress of being an “opportunist” and said the party had made the alliance offer to JD(S) for “petty political gains” and not for the welfare of the state. “The ‘Murder of Democracy’ happens the minute a desperate Congress made an ‘opportunist’ offer to the JD(S), not for Karnataka’s welfare but for their petty political gains. Shameful!” Shah tweeted. “The legacy of Mr. Rahul Gandhi’s Party is the horrific Emergency, blatant misuse of Article 356, subverting the courts, media and civil society,” he said.
Meanwhile, senior lawyer and jurist Ram Jethmalani also moved the Supreme Court in his personal capacity against Governor Vajubhai Vala’s decision to invite BJP to form government in the state. Calling it “gross abuse of constitutional power,” Jethmalani, however, made it clear that he did not file the petition on behalf of any party. “The governor’s order is a gross abuse of the constitutional power and this has brought disrepute to the constitutional office he has been holding,” said Jethmalani in his petition, which will be taken up on Friday along with Congress’ plea.
(With PTI inputs)