14 months later, coalition government in Karnataka crumbles
The collapse of the coalition government in Karnataka on Tuesday sets the stage for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to stake claim to power in the southern state and likely marks the return of 76-year-old Lingayat strongman BS Yeddyurappa to the chief minister’s chair for the fourth time.
All eyes are now on governor Vajubhai Vala, who accepted chief minister HD Kumaraswamy’s resignation late on Tuesday and asked him to lead a caretaker government.
In the 225-member assembly, the BJP is the single largest party with 105 legislators. Yeddyurappa said he will meet Vala to stake claim after consulting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah.
“We are going to have a legislature party meet now,” he told reporters in Bengaluru on Tuesday night.
Senior BJP leader R Ashoka said the party is likely to meet the governor to form the next government on Wednesday.
Union minister Pralhad Joshi said the BJP will stake claim to form the government after taking guidance from the central leadership. “We are going to stake the claim to form the government but the formalities will be decided after taking guidance from the national leaders,” Joshi told reporters in New Delhi.
Former Lok Sabha secretary general PDT Acharya said the BJP will have to prove its majority in the House. “As of now, they don’t have the majority,” he said, pointing out that the party held only 105 seats and the majority mark in the full House was 113.
The fate of the 15 rebel legislators – 12 from the Congress and three from the Janata Dal (Secular) – also continues to be uncertain. Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar is yet to take a final call on accepting their resignation letters, and disqualification petitions pending against them. The matter of the resignation of the rebel MLAs is also pending before the Supreme Court and both the Congress and JD(S) legislature parties have impleaded themselves in the matter. The Supreme Court is also hearing the petition of the independents on Wednesday and all players in Karnataka will be keenly watching its outcome.
A question mark also hangs over speaker Kumar. Unless he resigns in the next few days, the BJP may have to prove its majority in a trust vote presided over by Kumar. According to the rules, the speaker can be removed either by losing her seat, or by a resolution passed by the majority of the assembly – that too after giving a 14-day notice.
Acharya said if the resignation of the rebel lawmakers is accepted, the Election Commission will hold by-elections for their respective constituencies.
Yeddyurappa has been the chief minister in 2007, 2008, and for three days in 2018, but has never finished a full term.
(with inputs from Aurangzeb Naqshbandi)