Congress says governor Vajubhai Vala has ‘shamed his office’, JD(S) set to move Supreme Court against the decision to invite BJP.
Bengaluru: On board a colourful jeep, on the last day of campaigning in his constituency Shikaripura, Karnataka BJP chief B.S. Yeddyurappa had very confidently told ThePrint: “I will be sworn in as the chief minister of Karnataka on 17 May. The Congress will get just 60 to 65 seats.”
And that is exactly what is set to happen, although his party has failed to win a majority and Congress has won more.
At 9 am Thursday, Yeddyurappa will be sworn in as the 23rd chief minister of Karnataka.
Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala invited Yeddyurappa to form the government through a letter Wednesday night, after the latter was formally elected leader of the BJP legislature party. The governor has given him 15 days to prove his majority on the floor of the house.
BJP’s national general secretary and spokesperson Muralidhar Rao told reporters that Yeddyurappa will be the only one sworn in Thursday. The cabinet will be expanded after he proves his majority on the floor of the house, Rao added.
What the numbers say
As per the official results of the assembly elections put out by the Election Commission of India, the BJP won 104 of the 222 seats for which elections were held, while the Congress won 78, and the Janata Dal (Secular) and its ally Bahujan Samaj Party combined for 38 seats. Others won two seats.
As soon as the results were declared Tuesday, the Congress and the JD(S) swiftly landed at Raj Bhavan and submitted a letter claiming that together they had 116 MLAs, four more than the majority mark.
The BJP cried foul and said it was the single largest party and had the right to be called first to form the government.
Day of suspense
After 24 hours of political drama, H.D. Kumaraswamy, the JD(S) state president who has been named by the Congress-JD(S) combine as its chief ministerial candidate, alleged that his MLAs were being offered bribes by the BJP leaders, and were offered up to Rs 100 crore and a cabinet berth.
On the other hand, Congress MLAs were taken to the Eagleton Resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru to ensure that they were not poached.
In the meantime, rumour mills were on overdrive saying that two congress MLAs, who were also aides of former BJP heavyweight Janardhan Reddy, B. Nagendra and Anand Singh, had gone incommunicado, leading to speculation that they were switching sides.
As the suspense continued, the BJP’s state unit tweeted that Yeddyurappa would take oath at 9.30 am. “The moment that crores of Kannadigas are awaiting is here. Sri @BSYBJP will take oath as the chief minister of Karnataka tomorrow morning at 9.30 am at Raj Bhavan. The movement to build out Suvarna Karnataka has begun,” it said.
But soon, the tweet was deleted, only to be replaced with the new time, 9 am.
Allegations and counter-allegations
The Congress has pointed fingers at the governor, saying he has “shamed his office by inviting the BJP”. The party’s chief spokesperson, Randeep Surjewala, said: “By inviting the BJP, the governor of Karnataka has failed to disperse his constitutional duty and acted like a BJP puppet.”
Congress leaders have threatened to go on a dharna in front of Raj Bhavan Thursday, while the JD(S) has decided to move the Supreme Court against this decision.
Kumaraswamy, on the other hand, trained his guns firmly on the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“BJP (leaders) are expert kidnappers. It’s our responsibility to protect our MLAs. But Modi is responsible for today’s resort politics,” said Kumaraswamy, son of former PM and JD(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda.
“We have no issue with the governor. But the BJP’s conduct has raised doubts. The governor has encouraged the BJP by giving it 15 days, even though it has only 104 seats. The governor’s grant of 15 days is illegal.”
The BJP, on the other hand, called the move by the JD(S) and the Congress to stitch together a post-poll alliance and stake claim to form a government a “complete subversion of the democratic process”.
BJP spokesperson Malavika Avinash said: “This is the people’s mandate. They have rejected the Congress party. Siddaramaiah has lost Chamundeshwari and the Congress party has been routed by the people. It is only desirable that the governor has taken this decision. Kumaraswamy and the Congress have played the wrong kind of politics. Both Kumaraswamy and Congress are hungry for power.”