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Karnataka floor test: A cliffhanger that wasn’t

Saturday saw a tense atmosphere in the Vidhana Soudha here, with the secretariat deploying 200 marshals in the assembly ahead of the trust vote at 4 pm.

india Updated: May 19, 2018 23:38 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Karnataka,Karnataka floor test,BJP
Outgoing Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa addresses the house members before a floor test, at Vidhanasoudha, in Bengaluru, on Saturday. (PTI Photo)

Saturday saw a tense atmosphere in the Vidhana Soudha here, with the secretariat deploying 200 marshals in the assembly ahead of the trust vote at 4 pm.

At 10.30 am, with half an hour to go for oaths of the new MLAs to be registered, a petition moved in the Supreme Court against naming BJP leader KG Bopaiah as the pro tem speaker was the only matter being discussed.

At 11 am, when oath-taking began, all eyes were on the MLAs who had gathered in the assembly. Only three were missing, Congress MLAs Anand Singh and Pratapgouda Patil and BJP MLA G Somashekhara Reddy.

By 1 pm, rumours were doing the rounds that both Singh and Patil had been traced to the Gold Finch Hotel in the city.

When the assembly adjourned for lunch, Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) MLAs looked confident of getting the numbers. DK Shivakumar said he had been in touch with Singh and Patil.

“Nobody will risk being absent or cross-voting. He has been in touch with us,” he said.

By 3 pm, Suresh entered the House beaming. “We have contacted him and now we are waiting for the floor test to begin,” he said. Meanwhile, BJP MLAs said there might not be a floor test. However, at 3 pm the Governor’s office confirmed that no appointment had been sought by Yeddyurappa yet.

At 3.30 pm, with about 30 MLAs yet to take oath, Shivakumar walked into the House leading Singh by the hand and paraded him in the opposition benches, greeting senior leaders Siddaramaiah and HD Kumaraswamy of the JD(S). Within minutes he had got the papers ready for Singh to sign. Working president of the Congress state unit, Dinesh Gundu Rao, arrived soon with the party whip, which had been issued shortly before.

At about 3.45 pm, Singh, Patil and Reddy took their oaths and the floor was opened to Yeddyurappa to move the motion.

A minor argument ensued after Yeddyurappa began reading out his resignation speech before moving the trust vote. Siddarmaiah and senior Congress leader RV Deshpande asked Bopaiah to tell Yeddyurappa to move the motion first.

Once Yeddyurappa announced his resignation, the opposition began thumping the benches. With senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, H Muniyappa, Mallikarjun Kharge, KC Venugopal and Ashok Gehlot congratulating the state’s leadership. On the other side, Muralidhar Rao, Ananth Kumar and other senior leaders looked distraught. As Siddaramaiah got up to make his speech as leader of the opposition, Bopaiah got up from his chair, even as BJP MLAs began walking out, unmindful that the national anthem had begun playing. It was played a second time, this time with the BJP MLAs waiting near the exit, but there was still no sign of Bopaiah.

Shivakumar then went over to congratulate Kumaraswamy, who has been named as the CM candidate. With the floor test done, the Congress MLAs retired to the Hilton Hotel and the JD(S) MLAs to the Le Meridian Hotel to convene legislators’ meetings.