Bengaluru: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s B.S. Yeddyurappa Friday staked claim to form the government in Karnataka, and will be sworn in as chief minister at 6 pm.
“I am requesting the governor to swear me in to office today itself,” the three-time Karnataka CM told reporters after meeting governor Vajubhai Vala.
Yeddyrurappa has been given a week to prove majority in the Karnataka assembly, said an order from the Raj Bhavan minutes after the meeting.
Coming just over two days after the H.D. Kumaraswamy-led Congress-JD(S) coalition lost the majority in the assembly, the sudden move appears like an effort by the BJP to prevent the rebel Congress and JD(S) MLAs from withdrawing their resignation letters.
On Thursday, Karnataka Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar disqualified three Congress legislators under the anti-defection law.
Rush to form government
In his letter to Governor Vala, Yeddyurappa said, “I submit that I am the Leader of the BJP Legislature Party and the Leader of the Opposition in the assembly. At present the strength of the BJP MLAs is 105 and the single largest party in the assembly.”
The BJP state president wrote that he wanted to be “invited to form the government today itself and I will take oath as chief minister of Karnataka in Raj Bhavan between 6 pm and 6.15 pm”.
Sources in the party said Yeddyurappa was awaiting a nod from the central leadership, including party chief and Home Minister Amit Shah, to form the government. He received the go-ahead late Thursday after the Speaker’s action against Congress legislators.
He had also sought permission for four other legislators’ swearing-in along with him, but was asked to hold back that option for now, said the sources.
Senior state BJP leaders were also taken aback by this sudden decision. Many of them were sent messages from the state party office to rush back to the capital city to participate in the oath-taking ceremony, added the sources.
Also read: Why a BJP govt in Karnataka could be as unstable as the 14-month Congress-JD(S) alliance
Uncertainty over rebels
The Speaker’s decision a day before has created unrest among the rebel MLAs who have picked up the hint after that they would probably get disqualified in small groups over the next couple days, as indicated by Ramesh Kumar himself.
“The MLAs in Mumbai expressed concern that if they are disqualified, their political career may come to an end and their voters may not be very forgiving too,” said a senior BJP functionary who did not want to be named.
During his press conference, Kumar had evaded reply to specific questions as to whether the rebels could withdraw their resignation letters even at this stage.
A senior Congress leader who didn’t wish to be named told ThePrint that party leader Ramalinga Reddy had been in touch with a few rebels in a bid to get them back into the party fold.
One of the rebels, Shivaram Hebbar, who resigned from the Karnataka assembly on 6 July, has now claimed that he was not “disgruntled” but “helpless” working in the coalition government.
Also read: 3 reasons why Yeddyurappa worked hard to topple Karnataka’s Congress-JD(S) govt