Karnataka Floor Test: Political drama in Karnataka came to an end on Saturday evening after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and three-day-old Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa stepped down from his post ahead of the scheduled floor test, paving way for a Congress-JD(S) government in the state. “I will not face confidence vote….I am going to resign,” he told the Assembly after a brief emotional speech. Yeddyurappa’s resignation brings HD Kumaraswamy into the limelight who has the backing of Congress with the newly formed alliance, claiming to have the support of 117 MLAs in the 224-member House with an effective strength of 221.
Since Bharatiya Janata Party had won just 104 seats in the Karnataka election held on May 12, eight short of the majority mark, proving the majority was never going to be easy for Yeddyurappa. However, he and other senior party leaders remained confident of winning the trust vote.
Things had become tough for the 75-year-old Lingayat stalwart when the Supreme Court, on Friday, ordered him to prove majority on Saturday, reducing the 15-day window given by the Governor. “We will abide by the Supreme Court verdict…we have got 100 percent support and cooperation to prove the majority,” Yeddyurappa had said after the SC verdict, showing he was confident of proving majority.
However, the turn of events on Saturday proved detrimental for Bharatiya Janata Party and Yeddyurappa as he decided to resign without facing a trust vote. Here is a look at five last-minutes twists that took the game away from BS Yeddyurappa and BJP:
1. Emergence of ‘missing’ MLAs
The two missing Congress MLAs — Anand Singh and Pratap Gouda Patil — were not present in the assembly when their names were announced in the first half and could have played an important role if BJP had to prove majority. However, during the lunch break of the Assembly, these MLAs were located at Goldfinch Hotel, which is just one kilometre away from the Vidhana Soudha.
Congress used police’s help to bring both these MLAs to the Assembly under protection. This ended BJP’s hopes of luring away Congress MLAs.
The Congress had also suspected the presence of BJP’s Ballari MLA G Somashekhara Reddy with its missing MLAs. Reddy is mining baron G Janardhana Reddy’s brother. However, he wasn’t found there and later came to the Assembly.
2. SC order on live telecast of proceedings
The Supreme Court, on Saturday morning, rejected Congress-JD(S) plea challenging validity of Governor’s order appointing BJP MLA KG Bopaiah as the pro-tem speaker of Karnataka Assembly by ignoring the convention of appointing the senior most member in the House but, ordered a live telecast of the crucial floor test to ensure “transparency” in the trust vote.
The apex court said the “live telecast would be the best possible way to ensure transparency in the proceedings”, virtually tying BJP or any other political party’s hands. It also made clear that there shall be no other item on the agenda that shall be taken up during the trust vote.
It said several local channels will be provided with the live feed of the proceedings so that they can also be in a position to telecast simultaneously.
3. Audio clip released by Congress
Amid the chaos, Congress dropped a bomb on BJP by releasing an audio tape in which 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. Even though the Bharatiya Janata Party denied the allegations, this was the last thing it needed ahead of the floor test.
In the tape, Yeddyurappa is allegedly heard speaking to Congress MLA from Hirekerur BC Patil over the phone. As Patil congratulated the BJP leader, Yeddyurappa pleads with him, saying, “Come back, you will become minister….I will help you in whichever way you want.”
The voice on the other end then says he has three more people with him. Yeddyurappa tells Patil to bring them too and trust him.
4. Yeddyurappa-Amit Shah conversation
Even though odds were never in Bharatiya Janata Party’s favour in this battle, the past heroics of Amit Shah and Narendra Modi meant that a miracle couldn’t have been ruled out. But, things started to fall apart when during the lunch break reports of a phone conversation between Yeddyurappa and Amit Shah emerged.
These reports claimed both Amit Shah and PM Narendra Modi asked the 75-year-old leader not to push his case and gracefully exit. Even though there was no official confirmation on this from BJP, Yeddyurappa resolve took a hit after he lost the support of BJP’s biggest leaders.
Even in his speech before resigning, Yeddyurappa thanked Amit Shah and Narendra Modi for making him the chief minister candidate on Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Birth Anniversary.
5. Yeddyurappa’s decision to step down
The final nail in the coffin, of course, was Yeddyurappa’s decision to quit without facing the litmus test. Yeddyurappa, in his emotional speech, said that he would now “go to the people”, ending the little hope of a BJP government in the state.