BSY took oath as CM of Karnataka, but why is he and BJP in a hurry?
BJP’s 75-year-old Lingayat leader B S Yeddyurappa today took over as the 23rd Chief Minister of Karnataka. After a brief prayer to the sun god in the morning, the oath of office was administered by Governor Vajubhai Vala at 9 am in a brief ceremony. He took oath in the name of god and farmers.
Who has the people’s mandate in Karnataka?
The BJP, which has won 104 seats.
Congress which dropped to 78 seats, whose own CM and Ministers lost by big margins.
JD(S) who won only 37 seats and lost their deposits on several others.
People are wise to realise.
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) 17 May 2018
Celebrations broke out in Bengaluru and other parts of Karnataka even as the Congress and the JD(S) promised to remove Yeddyurappa from office within 24 hours. The Congress also threatened massive and widespread protests across Karnataka. Soon after the swearing in ceremony, the Congress headed by Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Ghelot, Venugopal and Siddaramaiah went straight to the Vidhana Soudha and sat in protest.
Protesting outside #Karnataka Vidhana Soudha against the swearing-in of B.S. Yeddyurappa as CM #KarnatakaElections2018 pic.twitter.com/keRBhn2Ugy
— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) 17 May 2018
It was rather ironic to see the former CM Siddaramaiah, who occupied the thrown in the sprawling Vidhana Soudha for five years, sit meekly on the steps in protest.
While analysts and experts condemned the BJP and BSY, the saffron party has a reason to be in a hurry. The BJP is looking far ahead to the next year’s general elections. The BJP is keen on keeping the Lingayats in central and north Karnataka, the hardcore Hindu loyalists in coastal Karnataka, the Backward Class and SCs in Hyderabad-Karnatak region happy. These are areas from where the BJP got its seats and support. In 2019, the party wants to consolidate these vote banks.
Handing over the CM chair to the Lingayat community’s rival H D Kumaraswamy, a Vokaliga, would be seen by the BJP vote base as a betrayal and an insult to the mandate. Unlike the geographical spread of the BJP, the JD(S) got its vote only from its traditional region – Old Mysuru region. The BJP knows that whatever they do, they will never be able to make a chink in the Vokaliga belt in the Old Mysuru region.
But how will BSY win the crucial trust vote? The BJP has been able to tap a few Lingayat MLAs in the Congress and some disgruntled lawmakers in the JD(S). The strategy is to make them abstain from voting and bring down the numbers in the House. After winning the floor test, the BJP will prod the abstaining MLAs to resign and recontest as independents.
#WATCH: BJP workers dance & celebrate outside Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru after their leader BS Yeddyurappa was sworn in as Chief Minister of Karnataka. pic.twitter.com/bJ7XK3tx3C
— ANI (@ANI) 17 May 2018
The second option is to bring these MLAs to the Upper House.
Earlier, in a high voltage drama that went beyond midnight and into the wee hours of today, the Supreme Court refused to stay the swearing-in ceremony of BJP’s BS Yeddyurappa at 9 am. But the court asked Yeddyurappa to produce letter he had given to Karnataka governor claiming support of MLAs.
In an unprecedented move, the Chief Justice convened the bench comprising Justice AK Sikri, SA Bobde and Ashok Bhushan at around 2.30 am. Pronouncing an order at around 4.30 am today, the court made it clear that Yeddyurappa’s swearing-in is subject to outcome of the petition after final hearing, which will be tomorrow (Friday).
Passing an interim order on an urgent petition filed by senior lawyer Manu Singhvi on behalf of the Congress-JD(S) combine, the court said it cannot intervene with Governor Vajubhai Vala’s decision to invite the leader of the largest single party following the elections in Karnataka.
However, giving hope to the Congress, the court did not outright dismiss the petition filed by Congress-JD(S) combine but will take up the matter tomorrow.
Bengaluru: HD Deve Gowda leaves from his residence for Shangri-La Hotel, where JD(S) MLAs are lodged. pic.twitter.com/p2MBxISFod
— ANI (@ANI) 17 May 2018
But in another significant observation, the court said it is preposterous to argue that before MLAs take oath they are not subject to anti-defection law. This means it is an open invitation to horse trading, the SC bench observed.
This means MLAs cannot switch sides; if they do so, they will face disqualification under the Anti-Defection Law. However, the BJP can coax a few MLAs from the Congress-JD(S) combine to abstain from voting.