Bengaluru: After gasping for breath for nearly a week, the 14-month old JD(S)-Congress coalition government headed by Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy collapsed on the floor of the Assembly on Tuesday night amid high-voltage drama.
With this, the Congress has lost one more state and the BJP once again is likely to hoist the saffron flag below the Vindhyas.
After marathon ‘speakathon’ by Congress lawmakers, the BJP pressed for a division in which the Kumaraswamy dispensation got 99 votes in favour of the trust motion while Opposition BJP got 105. Finally, the government lost by 6 votes in a House that witnessed a depleted strength of 204 with 15 rebel MLAs staying away.
Soon after the defeat, Kumaraswamy drove to the Raj Bhavan accompanied by deputy chief minister G Parameshwara and water resources minister in the outgoing cabinet DK Sivakumar and submitted his resignation to Governor Vajubhai Valla.
The trust vote was necessitated after 15 MLAs resigned, plunging the Kumaraswamy government to a minority. Till the last moment, the HDK government tried its best to get the rebel MLAs back – pleading with them, promising them the moon, slapping legal cases and finally came the threat of disqualification.
Soon after the defeat of the coalition government, former chief minister and BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa called it the “victory of democracy.”
“People were fed up with Kumaraswamy government. I want to assure people of Karnataka that a new era of development will start now,” he told reporters before heading to an emergency legislative party meeting.
Celebrations broke out in Bengaluru and across many cities as BJP workers held processions claiming victory. But the next BJP government headed by Yeddyruappa will have a tough time and will have to withstand the pressure from the rebel MLAs and senior party leaders who have made it clear that loyalty to the party should be first rewarded.
In fact, Kumaraswamy and Congress legislative party leader Siddaramaiah warned the BJP that the saffron party will face the same heat very soon. They blamed the BJP for the fall of the Kumaraswamy government through what they called immoral means and through horse-trading. “Democracy has hit a new low through the acts of the BJP,” Siddaramaiah said.
During his marathon speech in the Assembly earlier, Siddaramaiah and DK Shivkumar took pleasure in hauling the BJP over the coals for using dirty tricks to come to power.
Late in the night, the BJP finalised plans to stake claim to form a government with BS Yeddyurappa as the CM candidate. He is likely to take oath on Thursday – 14 months after he had to step down as CM as he had failed to get a majority in the House.
But the BJP high command will have to explain why the 75-years cap on leaders holding office is being given a go-by in the case of Yeddyruappa.
It was on July 18 that Kumaraswamy moved the trust vote. On Tuesday – his unlucky day – Kumaraswamy made an emotional speech wondering what harm he had done to the rebel MLAs. “I looked after them well, gave them power, gave them money to develop their constituencies. Yet they went against me. I am disappointed and deeply hurt,” he said.
But the reason for the rebels’ source of ire was sitting a seat away from Kumaraswamy in the Assembly. Sources say that many rebels MLAs were upset at the way they were treated by Kumaraswamy’s brother HD Revanna and the Gowda family. This is precisely why former JD(S) president Vishwanath had no qualms in leaving the party.
Earlier, during the debate in the Assembly, Congress lawmakers headed by Siddaramaiah and DK Shivkumar taunted the BJP throwing wild charges of bribery, audio tapes which showed that MLAs were lured using money power and ministerial berths and even a ‘gay sex’ charge against senior BJP leader Arvind Limbavali. The BJP lawmaker broke down in the House hearing the charges and demanded an enquiry.
Siddarmaiah claimed that the BJP government will be illegal as it does not have the support of the voters. To prove his point, he said the Congress got 38 percent vote share, the BJP 36 and JD(S) 18. The Congress and JD(S) put together has 56 percent vote share but no power to govern.
As the debate crossed the 6 pm deadline set by the Speaker, the Congress tried its best one last time to get back the 13 rebel MLAs to participate in the trust vote. However, at least 13 rebels in Mumbai repeatedly asserted they would not budge from their decision to resign.
There was some drama too when the Speaker displayed his resignation which, he said, he was ready to submit any time.
Finally, when it became evident that the government would fall, the Congress tried to forcefully bring two independent MLAs from a posh flat in Bengaluru to the House. When a scuffle broke out between Congress and BJP workers, the police immediately imposed prohibitory orders in the city under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) (prevents assembly of five or more people at one spot) and banned sale of liquor from 6 pm Tuesday for 48 hours.