Kumaraswamy wins Karnataka assembly floor test, calls BJP walkout ‘escapism’
The Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) government won the floor test on Friday after legislators of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) walked out of the House, ending the uncertainty which followed the May 12 elections that threw up a hung assembly.
JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy was sworn in as the chief minister and Congress leader G Parameshwara became the deputy chief minister on Wednesday, four days after BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa resigned before a scheduled floor test.
The BJP had been invited first by the governor to form the government as it was the single largest party with 104 seats out of 222. However, Yeddyurappa resigned before a Supreme Court-monitored floor test was scheduled to take place, amid allegations of attempts by the BJP to poach Opposition MLAs.
The Congress has the support of 78 MLAs, the JD(S) of 38 (including one seat of its ally Bahujan Samaj Party); two independents also support the coalition.
On Friday, proceedings began with the unanimous election of Congress leader KR Ramesh Kumar as the new speaker, despite BJP MLA S Suresh Kumar having submitted his nomination.
Yeddyurappa said the party did not wish to contest a post that was supposed to be above politics, a move that was welcomed by Kumar.
That, though, was the end of the bonhomie in the House. In his speech moving the trust motion, Kumaraswamy took aim at Yeddyurappa for his resignation speech on Saturday, where the latter had threatened to hit the streets to protest against any injustice meted out to the people by the current dispensation.
“I want to assure everybody that no group or person will have to hit the streets in protest because our government will work for the benefit of all,” Kumaraswamy said.
“Yeddyurappa also said that he had travelled extensively across the state for two years leading up to the elections and that he has a lot of information on the plight of the people. I appeal to him to give this information so that we can work for the welfare of the people of the state,” he said.
Responding to the BJP’s criticism for not announcing a farm loan waiver of Rs 53,000 crore that he had promised to do within 24 hours of being elected, Kumaraswamy said he did not need lessons on farmers’ welfare from anybody.
“I did not say that I would not waive loans. I said I would now have to consult with my coalition partners before announcing such a policy,” he said.
Ever since the Congress decided to extend support to Kumaraswamy to form the government, the BJP had accused him of being an opportunist, who is continually hungry for power. “It was this same party that had approached me to form a coalition government when I was a first-time MLA in 2006,” he said.
On a day of settling old political scores, Yeddyurappa, in his response to the chief minister’s speech, warned the Congress that Kumaraswamy and his father, the former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, were out to destroy the party.
“Heed my warning, this father-son duo will completely destroy your party and there won’t be a Congress left in the state,” he said.
Yeddyurappa also criticised the Congress for allegedly sidelining former chief minister Siddaramaiah. “Even before the results were out on May 15, the Congress’s leaders had reached Deve Gowda’s house, showing little respect to Siddaramaiah,” he said. The former CM also warned Congress leader DK Shivakumar that he would stand no chance of becoming a chief minister if he continued in the Congress.
Yeddyurappa made a slew of allegations of corruption against Kumaraswamy and the Deve Gowda family, claiming that apart from illegally distributing whole areas to the family, Kumaraswamy had also been involved in illegalities in mining.
“If farm loans are not waived within 24 hours, I will call for a voluntary bandh on Monday,” Yeddyurappa said, before walking out of the House along with the other BJP MLAs. Kumaraswamy called it “escapism.”
An irate Kumaraswamy called for a special session to discuss the antecedents of all those who were present in the House to decide who had the moral right to question whom. “If I bring out a complete list of Yeddyurappa’s deeds he will not be able to face the public,” he said.
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