The Congress-JD(S) coalition government in Karnataka headed by Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy collapsed on Tuesday night capping a 14-month-long tenure, losing a vote of confidence in the Assembly, setting the stage for the BJP’s return to power in the southern state.
After losing the trust vote which missed a couple of deadlines, Kumaraswamy, 59, went to Raj Bhavan and submitted his resignation to Governor Vajubhai Vala. The resignation was accepted with immediate effect but Kumaraswamy was asked to continue as caretaker chief minister till alternative arrangements are made.
Bringing to end a three-week-long high-voltage intense power struggle triggered by a raft of resignations by rebel lawmakers that made the survival of the government difficult, the confidence motion moved by Kumaraswamy was defeated with 99 members voting for the motion and 105 against it in a House of 225 including Speaker P R Ramesh Kumar and a nominated member.
As many as 20 MLAs– Congress-JDS (17), BSP (1), Independents (2)– skipped the proceedings, reducing the effective strength of the House to 205.
The magic figure for Kumaraswamy to win the trust vote required was 103.
“The motion moved by the Chief Minister has fallen through,” Speaker Kumar announced.
Flashing the victory sign after the voting, BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa, who is hoping to become the chief minister for the fourth time, described the outcome as a “victory for democracy”.
After the Assembly polls last year, Yeddyurappa resigned without facing the trust vote since he did not have the numbers on his side with the BJP, which bagged 104 seats, falling short of a majority by 9 seats.
He assured the people of Karnataka that “an era of development” would start with the BJP in power.
On the next step, Yeddyurappa, 76, said an appropriate decision would be taken “as early as possible.”
Outwitted in the numbers game and defeat staring in his face with the rebel MLAs in no mood to step back from their position not to attend the assembly session, Kumaraswamy gave indications of quitting in the initial remarks while winding up the debate on the confidence motion.
“I am ready to happily sacrifice this position,” he said appearing resigned to the fate of his ministry, as the assembly debated the confidence motion for four days.
In his reply, Kumaraswamy said discussions were on why he had not resigned and was sticking to the chair.
Sounding philosophical, he said when the 2018 assembly polls results were out, he had plans to quit politics.
“My political entry itself was all of a sudden and unexpected”.
The BJP did not take part in the debate except for interventions and remained silent despite allegations thrown at it by the Congress and JD(S) members.
The 15 rebel MLAs of the Congress and the JD(S) have sought four weeks’ time to appear before Speaker Kumar in connection with the plea for their disqualification from the State Assembly. The Speaker is also yet to take a decision on the resignations.
“Yes, we have sought four weeks’ time from the speaker. We have approached the speaker through our advocate,” Hunsur JD(S) MLA A H Vishwanath told PTI.
Kumaraswamy and the Congress moved the Supreme Court accusing the Governor of interfering with the Assembly proceedings when the debate on the trust vote was underway and sought clarification on its July 17 order causing hindrance in issuing whip to the legislators.
The court had held that the MLAs cannot be compelled to participate in the Assembly proceedings.