Curtains came down on the political drama in Karnataka on Saturday with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader BS Yeddyurappa resigning as the Chief Minister of the state without going for a floor test. The move by Yeddyurappa paved the way for Janata Dal Secular (JDS)-Congress alliance to come to power in the state with HD Kumaraswamy as the Chief Minister.
Just before the trust vote was to begin in the Assembly, Yeddyurappa made an emotional speech, which reminded many of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s address to the Lok Sabha 1996, declaring that he would resign as the chief minister as he did not have the numbers.
"If only people would have given us 113 seats instead of 104, we would have made this state a paradise. Whether I stay in power or not, I will continue to work for the people. And we will get 28 out of 28 seats in Lok Sabha. For now, I will go to Raj Bhawan and tender my resignation," said an emotional Yeddyurappa.
The drama began on May 15 itself, even before complete results of Karnataka Assembly elections were in. As trends confirmed a fractured mandate, with the BJP emerging as the single largest party, the Congress raced against time and extended a hand of friendship to the JDS. The JDS also wasted no time in grabbing the opportunity and declared that it has accepted the support from Congress and that HD Kumaraswamy would be the next Chief Minister of Karnataka.
Both the sides then headed to the Raj Bhavan, one after another, with letters of support and list of MLAs to bolster their case. All eyes were then on Governor Vajubhai Vala, who had the option to either invite the single largest party BJP or the post-poll JDS-Congress alliance, which enjoyed a comfortable majority.
This race to Raj Bhavan gave fodder to speculations of horse-trading and political understandings, with national level leaders from both sides – Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Gehlot, Prakash Javadekar and JP Nadda – camping in Bengaluru and spearheading their sides. The famous Eagleton resort, which had housed Congress lawmakers from Gujarat during Rajya Sabha elections in the state, was also back in the news. The Congress had reportedly booked 100 rooms in the Bengaluru resort to protect its MLAs from defection and horse-trading.
And then the Governor announced his decision by inviting the single largest party, the BJP, to form government in the state. BS Yeddyurappa was called by the Governor and told that he should take oath as the Chief Minister on May 17. Refusing to give up, the Congress rushed to the Supreme Court. What followed was a rare overnight hearing in the top court, which said that it could not interfere with the Governor’s decision.
As Yeddyurappa took oath as the Chief Minister of Karnataka on Thursday, the Congress launched fresh rounds of protests at Vidhana Soudha. Apart from Azad, senior party leaders like Siddaramaiah, Gehlot, Mallikarjun Kharge sat on dharna near a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the Assembly premises. They were also joined by JDS veteran and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda. Later, all JDS and Congress lawmakers were taken to Hyderabad and brought back only on the day of the trust vote.
Amid the political battle, Yeddyurappa was given 15-day time to go for the trust vote, but instead, the party declared that they would hold the test on Saturday itself. This had its own share of controversy as the Congress also objected to the appointment of Protem Speaker KG Bopaiah. But the Governor’s office remained firm saying there were precedents of the Protem Speaker not being the senior-most member of the House.
As the D-day came, two Congress MLAs - Anand Singh and Pratap Gowda Patil – went missing. They reached the Assembly in a security cover just minutes before the trust vote proceedings were slated to be held. Senior Congress leader DK Shivakumar made attempt to meet Patil as he reached the Assembly, but was not allowed by security personnel accompanying the party MLAs.
But it was a twist in the tale as instead of asserting victory, Yeddyurappa gave up the Chief Minister’s post after an emotional speech. While he thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah for giving him the opportunity to become the chief minister of the state, he announced that he would relinquish the post. He, however, vowed to keep working for the farmers and other sections of the society.
There were celebrations in the JDS-Congress camp following the announcement. Kumaraswamy flashed victory sign for shutterbugs. Later, he met the Karnataka Governor and staked claim to form the government. The oath taking ceremony was earlier scheduled for Monday and then deferred to Wednesday, May 23.