Bengaluru, July 26, 2019: The BJP’s BS Yeddyurappa will be sworn in for the fourth time as Karnataka Chief Minister this evening, three days after the coalition government led by HD Kumaraswamy failed a test of strength. Mr Yeddyurappa met with Governor Vajubhai Vala this morning to stake claim and urged him to schedule an oath ceremony today. Mr Yeddyurappa has to prove his majority by July 31. The BJP’s move ends speculation that the party was playing it safe to secure its numbers in the assembly.
"Just now I met the Governor to form government and take oath as chief minister. The governor has agreed," Mr Yeddyurappa, 76, told reporters.
Mr Yeddyurappa’s moves this morning were swift and surprising after his two-day wait for a go-ahead from his leadership in Delhi. He clarified that he had acted only after a go-ahead from party bosses Amit Shah and JP Nadda.
Mr Yeddyurappa has never completed a term. His last stint was just 48 hours long. Sworn in right after the Karnataka election in May last year that yielded no clear winner, Mr Yeddyurappa resigned before a trust vote, knowing he didn’t have the numbers. The Congress and Mr Kumaraswamy’s Janata Dal Secular then tied up to keep the BJP out of power.
The BJP has moved a day after the Karnataka Speaker disqualified three of the 17 rebel lawmakers whose exits brought down the 14-month Congress-JDS coalition.
In a floor test on Tuesday, which came after four days of prolonged debate that the BJP alleged were stalling tactics, the coalition could manage only 99 votes to the BJP’s 105.
The disqualifications bring down the strength of the House to 222, and the majority mark slides to 112. The BJP has 105 lawmakers and the support of an independent; another independent legislator was disqualified. The Congress-JDS has 100 (including a member who stayed away from the trust vote claiming he was unwell).
Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar disqualified the Congress’s Ramesh Jarkiholi and Mahesh Kumathahalli and independent legislator R Shankar, who pulled out of the coalition government and pledged support for the BJP. "The whole world knows the resignations were not voluntary or genuine," said the Speaker, who is to decide on 14 more resignations.
Fifteen legislators set the Congress-JDS coalition’s downfall in motion with mass resignations earlier this month. They promptly flew out of Bengaluru to Mumbai, where they have been staying in a five-star hotel.
The BJP initially appeared disinclined to form a minority government and struggle for numbers, given that the status of the rebels was unknown. But sources say the party does not want to wait and do nothing amid a fear of the rebels pulling off another switchover.
Describing Mr Yeddyurappa as a "corruption icon and former Jail Bird" in a tweet, the Karnataka Congress accused him of using "his excellent Horse Trading skills to subvert democracy and come to power". The party said "the people of Karnataka remember his disastrous tenure as CM between 2008-2011, which ended with BSY (Yeddyurappa) in Jail. History is all set to repeat again."