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How Team Yeddyurappa Won the Toss But Lost the 5-Day Karnataka Test

From the beginning till a couple of hours into counting, BJP seemed to be cruising towards the halfway mark effortlessly. But trends start reversing in the last 60 minutes.

Suhas Munshi |

Updated:May 20, 2018, 10:30 AM IST
How Team Yeddyurappa Won the Toss But Lost the 5-Day Karnataka Test
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In many ways, the events that have unfolded over the last five days – from the hung verdict, debate over swearing-in of the BJP government, urgent midnight hearing at the apex court, the cat and mouse chase of the MLAs, the audio tapes, and the return of the “missing” legislators – have made Karnataka assembly post-poll events unforgettable.

As curtains come down on what may only be scene 1 of a lengthy political drama in Karnataka, let’s recall the motions that Congress, with substantially fewer seats, went through to keep BJP, which came so close to the finish line, away from power in this crucial state.

Tuesday, May 15 (Counting Day)

From the beginning till a couple of hours into counting, BJP seems to be cruising along towards the halfway mark effortlessly. But trends start reversing in the last 60 minutes. Pollsters who had predicted a hung house, and were slammed for getting the results wrong yet again, are now hailed for their foresight.

Race for CM
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Congress and JD(S) eventually hold the BJP back by a crucial eight seats. Reports of Sonia Gandhi calling H D Deve Gowda start pouring in. The old Congress troubleshooters Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ashok Gehlot, who were camping since a day before, immediately got into action.

At around 3 in the afternoon, outgoing Chief Minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah publicly extends his party’s unconditional support to JD(S). Within a few minutes, the regional heavyweight accepts Congress’s proposal.

H D Kumaraswamy is unanimously accepted as the CM candidate of the coalition. Both Congress-JD(S) and BJP rush to meet Governor Vajubhai Vala but he doesn’t announce his decision just yet.

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Wednesday, May 16

While a fierce debate was launches about who between Congress-JD(S) and BJP should be given the first opportunity to prove majority, both camps claim support of MLAs from each other’s camps.

Kumaraswamy alleges that BJP offered Rs 100 crore to lure its MLAs, but BJP rebuffs all charges of horse-trading.

Meanwhile, the governor accepts the claims of B S Yeddyurappa and he is all set to be sworn-in as the 23rd Chief Minister of Karnataka.

Congress approaches the Supreme Court and appeals to be heard urgently. The court agrees and on the intervening night of May 16-17 arguments for and against Yeddyurappa’s swearing-in begin.

Thursday, May 17

The hearing in Supreme Court that began at 1:45 am concludes just before 6 in the morning. SC refuses to stop the swearing-in but decides to hear the case again. Yeddyurappa swears-in as the 23rd CM of the state and gets 15 days to prove majority.

Barbs between Congress-JD(S) and BJP, in multiple press conferences hosted by both camps, are exchanged several times.

Reports of a cat and mouse game between Congress and JD(S) MLAs, whose parties are trying to keep them together against all odds, flood media outlets throughout the night.

Friday, May 18

Supreme Court decides to cut the time given to BJP to prove majority, orders the floor test to be held on Saturday. Orders appointment of the most senior member among the freshly chosen MLAs as the pro tem speaker to conduct the floor test and confidence motion.

The governor chooses MLA K G Bopaiah over R V Deshpande, who is the most experienced MLA in the house, as the pro tem speaker. Both JD(S) and Congress object. Decide to appeal against the appointment, knock on the doors of apex court again. Supreme Court decides to hear the matter on Saturday.

Saturday, May 19

The Supreme Court rules for a complete transparency, does not question the appointment of the pro tem speaker, and orders live proceedings of the trust vote.

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MLAs of BJP, Congress and JD(S) arrive in the state assembly to take oaths. Some of the non-BJP MLAs are still not seen, and rumours of their switching sides, abound. But the “missing” Congress MLAs are welcomed back, by senior party leader D K Shivakumar, into the assembly.

B S Yeddyurappa, taking everyone by surprise, decides not to appear for a floor test but instead resigns in an emotional speech made some minutes before 4 pm when the trust vote was scheduled to happen. “I will not face confidence vote; I am going to resign,” Yeddyurappa says while resigning as the two-day old CM. He expresses gratitude towards his supporters and promises to work for farmers for the rest of his life.

Decks are now cleared for Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in as the Karnataka chief minister on Monday.
| Edited by: Sumedha Kirti
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