Bengaluru: The Congress-JD(S) coalition government in Karnataka headed by Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy collapsed on Monday night capping a 14-month-long turbulent 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 B S Yeddyurappa, who is hoping to become the chief minister for the fourth time, described the outcome as a “victory for democracy” as people were fed up with the Kumaraswamy government.
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 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.” The BJP dubbed the fall of the government as a “Game of Karma”.
Kumaraswamy, son of former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, watched the proceedings sitting in a pensive mood after a spirited reply to the debate.
With rebellion exploding in its face, the coalition government was hanging by a thread for the last three weeks with the Supreme Court verdict that rebel lawmakers ought not to be compelled to attend the session tipping the scales in favour of the BJP.
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.
Kumaraswamy lashed out at the BJP for repeatedly trying to topple his government and told the saffron party that its government would not last long and in the event of collapse, it is better to go for elections. “First bomb will explode in ministry formation,” he said.