Congress-JD(S) Government Loses Trust Vote In Karnataka Assembly
The HD Kumaraswamy-led Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition lost the trust vote in Karnataka Assembly on Tuesday, ending the 14-month tenure of the chief minister and his crisis-marred government.
While the Congress-JD(S) combine received 99 votes in favour, the opposition led by the Bharatiya Janata Party won 105 votes, capping a three-week-long Karnataka political crisis triggered by a raft of resignations by Congress and JD(S) MLAs, as well as Independents.
"The motion moved by the chief minister has fallen through," Karnataka Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar announced after the trust vote.
Kumaraswamy 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 MLAs ought not to be compelled to attend the session tipping the scales in favour of the BJP.
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.
Twenty-one MLAs—Congress and JD(S)‘s 17, Bahujan Samaj Party’s one and two independents skipped the proceedings, bringing down the effective strength of the Karnataka Assembly to 204. The magic figure required was 103.
In his reply, Kumaraswamy said discussions were on why he had not resigned and was sticking to the chair. Sounding philosophical, he said that when the 2018 Karnataka election results were out, he had plans to quit politics.
"My political entry itself was all of a sudden and unexpected.”
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," the outgoing chief minister said.
Asserting that his government was not shameless, he asked, "what wrong have we committed. We tried to create history. We have worked honestly to provide people-friendly government."
Accusing the BJP of being in a hurry, Kumaraswamy said: "I am not going to run away after the speech. Let the people of the state know why I was removed. I am not going to run away fearing numbers. Let the votes be counted. The chief minister's seat is not a permanent to anyone."
The BJP did not take part in the debate, except for interventions and remained silent despite allegations thrown at it by the Congress and JD(S) members.
In his speech, Congress leader Siddaramaiah accused the BJP of trying come to power through the backdoor using bribery and "whosesale" trade of MLAs.
He said the 15 MLAs resigning was nothing but "wholesale trade".
Siddaramaiah alleged that "Rs 20, 25 and 30 crore" were offered to lure the MLAs.
"Where did this money come from?" he asked.
Flashing a victory sign after the voting, BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa described the outcome as a "victory for democracy" as people were fed up with the Kumaraswamy government. He assured the people of Karnataka that "an era of development" would start with the BJP in power.
On the next step, Yeddyurappa said an appropriate decision would be taken "as early as possible." The government had defied two deadlines set by Governor Vajubhai Lala, who had asked Kumaraswamy to prove his majority on Friday itself, saying he had "prima facie satisfaction" that it has lost its majority confidence of the house.
The Karnataka crisis reached the climax after dramatic twists and turns that saw the MLAs of rival camps being corralled in resorts and hotels, allegations of bribery, rebel lawmakers knock the doors of the the Supreme Court to decide on the issues of whip, floor test and governor's intervention.
Kumaraswamy and the Congress had moved the Supreme Court accusing the state governor of interfering with the assembly proceedings when the debate on the trust vote was underway and sought clarification on its July 17 order causing hindrance in issuing whip to the legislators.
The court had held that the MLAs cannot be compelled to participate in the assembly proceedings.
The ruling coalition made frenetic efforts to win back the rebels with the chief minister making a desperate appeal to them on Sunday to attend the session to save his ministry but they refused to budge, sealing the fate of his government.
As many as 16 MLAs—13 from the Congress and three from JD(S)—had resigned, while independent MLAs R Shankar and H Nagesh had withdrawn their support to the coalition government, pushing it to the precipice.
One Congress member Ramalinga Reddy retracted from his decision to resign, saying he would support the government.
Before the en masse resignations, the ruling combine's strength was 117—Congress 78, JD(S) 37, BSP 1, and Nominated 1, besides the Speaker.
Tuesday’s was the third Karnataka trust vote since the 2018 state elections yielded a fractured mandate. The BJP had emerged as the single largest party with 104 seats, but failed to mobilise numbers.
The BJP added one more to its tally after the victory of an MLA in a by-election.
Yeddyurappa had resigned as chief minister after being in office for three days before facing a trust vote in May last year. Kumaraswamy, who succeeded him, had won the trust vote after forming the coalition government.
The trial of strength took place a day after the Supreme Court ruled on July 17 that the 15 rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs "ought not" to be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the ongoing session of the state assembly.
The Karnataka crisis unfolded with Anand Singh quitting on July 1 as an MLA, setting off a wave of resignations that swamped the ruling coalition, putting the government in jeopardy.
Fighting the battle for survival, the ruling coalition used all ammunition to tame the rebels from making offers to holding out the threat of disqualification but all in vain.
BJP, accused of making repeated attempts to topple the coalition government, managed to hold its flock together, herding them together in a hotel in Mumbai from the time the crisis erupted till the climax, amid allegations by the Congress that they were being held in confinement.
In his missive to Kumaraswamy, the governor had expressed his "prima facie satisfaction" that the government has lost its majority confidence of the house.
"When the allegations of horse-trading are widely made and I am receiving many complaints, it is constitutionally imperative that the floor test be completed without any delay and today itself," Vala had told Kumaraswamy on Friday.
Apprehensive of poaching bid from each other, the lawmakers from both camps were held in hotels and resorts and were being brought to the assembly in buses.
Fighting to save the government, Congress and JD(S) had sought disqualification of its rebel MLAs, accusing the BJP of using money power to lure its members.