The Congress-JD(S) coalition has passed the floor test, conducted via voice vote, with Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy asserting that the engineered alliance will have a stable government for the next five years.
Meanwhile, BJP MLAs staged a walkout on the issue of farmer loan waivers. The BJP has announced a state-wide bandh on May 28.
Before the floor test, the Speaker of the House was elected. While the Congress had nominated Ramesh Kumar, the BJP had added Suresh Kumar in the fray. Eventually, Suresh Kumar backed out of the race and Congress’ Ramesh Kumar was unanimously elected as Speaker of the Assembly. Kumar identified BS Yeddyurappa as Leader of Opposition in the House.
Karnataka consists of 224 assembly seats, out of which 222 seats had gone to polls on May 12, the results of which were announced on May 15. The two constituencies that were left out were RR Nagar constituency, where fake voter lists and voter IDs were confiscated, and Jayanagar where the sitting BJP MLA BN Vijaykumar died of a cardiac arrest while campaigning.
The counting day was followed by a loud fracas when BJP had won 104 seats, eight short of the magic number; while the Congress, which had won 78, had immediately announced an alliance with the JD(S), which had garnered 38 seats. The Congress was prompt to realise that garlanding the party that they had earlier called the “B-team of the BJP” during a campaign was the only way to oust their nemesis.
Both BJP and the Congress-JD(S) coalition had sent letters to Governor Vajubhai Vala staking claim to form the government. Vala, an RSS ideologue and a former member in Narendra Modi’s Gujarat cabinet, had invited BS Yeddyurappa to form the government.
A frenzied Congress-JD(S) coalition, with 116 MLAs on their side, had quickly knocked on the doors of the Chief Justice of India calling for an urgent hearing on the matter, citing precedents where a post-poll alliance between the BJP and various regional parties was given preference to form the government, even though the Congress was the single largest party. The Supreme Court had then held a midnight hearing, the second such hearing after Yakub Memon’s death sentence verdict.
The apex court stayed Yeddyurappa’s swearing-in ceremony, and significantly reduced the 15-day period granted to prove majority on the floor of the House. In subsequent hearings, the top court also added caveats such as 'no secret ballots' and 'live coverage of the floor test' to maintain transparency. The Congress, on the other hand, did a good job of keeping their MLAs together to prevent poaching and defection.
On the day of the floor test, BS Yeddyurappa pulled off a Vajpayee and after a sentimental speech, he quit as Chief Minister. Yeddyurappa’s resignation, even before the floor test could be conducted, paved a platform on which the Congress-JD(S) alliance stood and glorified their “moral victory”.Catch the latest news, views and analysis on Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018