KARNATAKA ELECTIONS 2018: ‘OPERATION LOTUS’ FAILS

IN BANGALORE In an anticlimactic move that was completely devoid of theatrics as opposed to the high-voltage drama Karnataka politics has been witnessing for the past three days, newly sworn-in Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa resigned on Saturday minutes before the floor test, thus paving the way for the Congress-JD(S) combine to take over the reins of the state.

With defeat staring him in the face, Yeddyurappa announced his decision to quit minutes before the floor test was scheduled to take place after a brief emotion-laden speech in the Assembly.

Hours later, HD Kumaraswamy, the chief ministerial candidate of the newly formed JD(S)-Congress-BSP alliance, met Governor Vajubhai Vala and said he has been invited to form the government.

“The BJP government failed to show their strength in the house. On that basis governor invited me to form the next government,” Kumaraswamy was quoted as saying.

The 58-year-old leader, son of JD(S) chief and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, said the governor gave him 15 days to prove his majority but asserted that “we don’t need 15 days”.

The swearing-in ceremony, he said, will be held between noon and 1 pm on Monday.

The anti-climax that was

While the BJP exhuded confidence in winning the trust vote, as the D-day loomed, it failed to muster the support of seven additional MLAs required to prove a majority in the house.

“I am going to resign as chief minister… I will go to Raj Bhavan and submit my resignation. I will not face confidence vote… I am going to resign,” Yeddyurappa told the Assembly at the end of a brief emotional pro-farmer speech and headed straight to Raj Bhavan where he handed over his resignation to Governor Vajubhai Vala.

The 75-year-old Lingayat stalwart’s resignation paved the way for the formation of a government led by JD(S) state chief HD Kumaraswamy, who had the full backing of the Congress. The newlyformed alliance has claimed support of 117 MLAs in the 224-member House with an effective strength of 221.

The political instability in the state stemmed from a split verdict the electorate gave on May 15, with the BJP emerging as the single-largest party but falling short of a majority.

The Congress, which finished second with 78 seats, moved swiftly and stitched an alliance with 37-member JD(S), and even backed its leader HD Kumaraswamy for chief ministership, plunging the state into a welter of confusion, with accusations of bribery and poaching flying thick and fast.

Amid allegations of poaching attempts by the BJP, the Congress herded its MLAs at a resort outside Bengaluru, while those of the JD(S) hunkered down in a hotel in the state capital.

They were later shifted to a hotel in Hyderabad and returned only after the Supreme Court ordered a floor test on a Congress-JD(S) petition.

As things grew murkier, the Congress released an audio tape where Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa was purportedly heard trying to lure an MLA with the promise of a ministerial berth if he backed the BJP government during the trust vote.

There were allegations that Congress MLA Anand Singh was “abducted” by the BJP, but he turned up at the Vidhana Sauda minutes before Yeddyurappa began his speech and was seen shaking hands with fellow Congress members before sitting with them.

An emotional Yeddyurappa gave several indications of resignation during his speech when he said, “I have seen the struggle of farmers, gave land to them, wiped their tears. I wanted to waive their loans up to Rs 1lakh but…”

He recalled his struggles as a politician and said how he had helped build the party, which once had just two MLAs. Now it has 104, he said.

“I went to the houses of the poor, stayed with them. I have faced trial by fire all my life, but I will serve my people till my last breath,” the senior leader said, his voice choking as he fought back tears.

Regaining composure, Yeddyurappa said he would now travel across Karnataka and ensure the party won all 28 seats of the state in the Lok Sabha elections and 156 in the next Assembly polls.

The 8-term MLA and twice 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”.

Azad said the governor gave 15 days’ time to Yeddyurappa as he was convinced he lacked the support of MLAs required to clear the floor test. “The governor gave them two weeks for breaking our parties… for horse-trading,” he said.

Shortest-ever stint as CM

It was Yeddyurappa’s shortest stint in power. He became the chief minister for the first time for seven days in 2007, but his government collapsed as the JD(S) reneged on honouring a power-sharing arrangement and withdrew support.

He became the chief minister for the second time when the BJP formed its first government in Karnataka in 2008. Yeddyurappa was at the helm of the state for over three years before he was made to quit following indictment by the Lokayukta in an alleged mining scam.