BS Yediyurappa, who took oath as Karnataka’s chief minister for the fourth time on Friday (July 26), will seek the trust vote at 10 a.m. today.
He had said earlier that he will prove the majority at on Monday (July 29) and pass the Finance Bill.
Speaker Ramesh Kumar on Sunday (July 28) disqualified 14 rebel MLAs — 11 from the Congress and three from the JD(S) — under the anti-defection law till the end of the current term of the House in 2023. Kumar had also disqualified three other rebel MLAs on Thursday (July 25).
The disqualifications came a day ahead of Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa seeking the trust vote in the assembly to prove his majority. Despite their disqualifications, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa expressed confidence in proving his majority in the House on Monday (July 29).
Earlier, in a cabinet meeting, which was held after the oath-taking ceremony, Yediyurappa said, “I have taken two prominent decisions. In addition to the Prime Minister Kisan Scheme, I will also provide two installments of ₹2,000 to the beneficiaries.” Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yediyurappa took oath with his original name.
His appointment as the chief minister comes with unabashed political opportunism in Karnataka in the last few weeks that led to the collapse of the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government.
Governor Vajubhai Vala administered the oath of office to Yediyurappa. While the party high-command stayed away from his swearing-in, the event witnessed full participation from the state leaders including recent MP elects.
The Lingayat strongman staked claimed to form the government after the Congress-JD(S) government headed by Kumaraswamy lost the trust vote in the Assembly on July 23. The coalition government lost majority as it garnered only 99 votes against the opposition BJP’s 105. In the 224-member assembly, 20 legislators (15 resigned, two independent and two Congress absent, and one Bahujan Samaj Party MLA) abstained from voting.
Meanwhile, Yediyurappa instructed Chief Secretary TM Vijay Bhaskar to withhold all new projects and transfers that were sanctioned by the previous Congress-JD(S) coalition government in the month of July.
The opposition Congress boycotted the swearing-in ceremony, calling it a blot on democracy as it alleged the BJP won the trust vote by horse-trading and through corrupt methods.
Even as Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao issued directives to all its MLAs to not attend the swearing-in ceremony, suspended MLA Roshan Baig, who recently resigned from the party, was present there. The Congress had alleged in the past that the BJP was trying to defect Baig on the promise of protecting him from the IMA scam.
Meanwhile, the JD(S) too accused the BJP of horse-trading. “#HorseTradingParty of India has “claimed” stake to form govt even though they don’t meet the magic number 112. Today marks one of the darkest days in the history of Karnataka. Democracy is dying a slow death because of BJP’s unconstitutional practices,” it tweeted.
What’s in a name?
Heeding to an astrologer’s advice in 2007, the BJP leader had changed his name from Yediyurappa to Yeddyurappa (I out, Y in – with an extra D), hoping to become the chief minister in the wake of support extended by the JD(S). He is at it again. Ahead of the swearing in ceremony on Friday, he went back to his original spelling — Yediyurappa.
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In a letter to the Governor, claiming stake to form government in the state, the BJP leader signed as “Yediyurappa” and soon his Twitter handle name was also changed.
A farmer’s son from Mandya district, the sugar bowl in the heartland of Cauvery basin, Yediyurappa had moved to Shikaripura in Shivamogga district and joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
While late Union minister Anant Kumar pursued his career at the national level, Yediyurappa rose to prominence in the state.
But, twice his stint as the chief minister did not last for even a week. Once, he had to resign as he could not prove majority in the House. And in another instance, he was forced to resign after being indicted in a corruption case. A similar threat remains this time as well as he is set to form the government with a wafer-thin majority.
In 2007, he stayed in the chief minister’s seat for a mere seven days. The first-ever BJP government in the south collapsed after its ally, JD(S), decided to vote against their confidence motion in the Assembly. The fall came after the saffron party refused the power-sharing agreement with the JD(S).
Subsequently, the state went for polls again. The BJP chartered its growth this time and made coastal Karnataka its Hindutva laboratory with the support of the Lingayat and Brahmin communities. With a fractured mandate, the BJP resorted to ‘Operation Lotus’, a plan to circumvent anti-defection law and secure the support of legislators from other political parties to form the government.
When Yediyurappa became the chief minister again in 2008, his tenure was marred with corruption allegations. In 2011, he was forced to resign following a large-scale iron-ore mining scam in Karnataka. Besides recommending a ban on mining and iron-ore exports, the then Lokayukta chief Santosh Hegde put the loss to the tune of ₹16,085 crore between 2006 and 2010.
Besides Yeddyurappa, BJP’s Reddy brothers — Janardhan Reddy (tourism and infrastructure minister), Karunakara Reddy (former Lok Sabha member) and MLA Somashekara Reddy —also allegedly aided his illegal activities. Corruption charges against him dented the BJP’s image in the state.
Confronted with arrest warrant, Yediyurappa surrendered before the Lokayukta Police. But he ensured he did not lose hold by placing Union Minister D V Sadananda Gowda as his successor, only to keep away his political bete noire K S Eshwarappa, a Kuruba. His aspiration for the chief minister’s post led to the fall of Sadananda Gowda, and he also ensured that Gowda was replaced by Lingayat leader Jagadish Shettar from North Karnataka.
In 2017, a CBI court acquitted Yediyurappa of all charges.
One term, three CMs
The state witnessed three chief ministers during the BJP’s five-year tenure between 2008 and 2013. It lost the 2013 Assembly elections, but in the meantime, the party worked towards strengthening its base in the south.
In the 2018 Assembly polls, it failed to bag a majority but emerged as the single largest party with 105 of the total 224 seats. In a sharp contrast, it managed to win 26 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in this year’s general elections.
In a hurry to become the chief minister in 2018, Yediyurappa went on to stake claim to form the government in the state. On being invited by the Governor, he even took oath as the chief minister and was given 15 days’ time to prove his majority in the House. But, the Supreme Court intervened and directed Yediyurappa to prove his majority within 24 hours. With no majority in the House, he was forced to resign even before the commencement of the floor test.
“I am a fighter and I will continue to fight until my last breath,” he had told HD Kumaraswamy, who formed the government after him, while resigning.
Leaders of the Congress-JD(S) coalition, which formed the government in 2018, have accused repeatedly the BJP of engineering defection, in an attempt to dethrone chief minister Kumaraswamy. Congress leader DK Shivakumar, during his speech in the Assembly last week, in a mocking way, appreciated Yediyurappa for his repeated attempts of ‘Operation Lotus’ despite failing six times to woo rebel MLAs.
However, the BJP denied the charges of horse-trading and engineering defection and its members usually sat in the House without arguing or participating in the proceedings.
Finally, when Kumaraswamy failed to prove Majority on July 23, Yediyurappa had his last laugh, with the dream of becoming the chief minister once again. But only time will prove whether or not the ‘nataka’ will end or continue, like always, in Karnataka.