The 14-month Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka collapsed on Tuesday, with Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy losing the confidence motion on the floor of the Assembly by six votes. He later tendered his resignation to Governor Vajubhai Vala.
With the BJP announcing its decision to stake a claim to form a government, the transition of power and return of its State president B.S. Yeddyurappa as the Chief Minister is imminent.
The confidence motion was put to vote late in the evening, six days after Mr. Kumaraswamy moved it and amid a protracted and heated debate on the issue of 15 resignations from the ruling parties allegedly engineered by the BJP.
Though the outgoing Chief Minister was well aware that the numbers were stacked against him, he said he “would not run away” from the House and resign, but put the motion to vote.
As Mr. Yeddyurappa also demanded that there be a division of vote, Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar counted the votes row by row. While 99 MLAs expressed confidence in the Kumaraswamy-led government, 105 opposed it. Mr. Ramesh Kumar announced that the motion was defeated and adjourned the House sine die.
In a House of 225 MLAs (including one nominated member) 20 MLAs were not present at the time of voting. The absentees included 15 rebel MLAs who have resigned – 12 from Congress and 3 from JD(S), 2 Congress MLAs who abstained due to health reasons, 2 Independents and the lone BSP MLA.
A jubilant Mr. Yeddyurappa the fall of the government as a “victory of democracy.” He said after the trust vote, “The new era of development will begin in the State from tomorrow. My priority has always been farmers and I assure them that I will work towards their welfare,” he said.
Mr. Kumaraswamy warned that the political instability, caused by engineered defections, would boomerang on the BJP. “I am sure you [Mr. Yeddyurappa] will see dropping of bombs soon after you form your ministry,” he said.
CLP leader Siddaramaiah squarely blamed the BJP for the fall of the government. “The BJP that used money and muscle power has won in the number game, but has lost morally... We have not stooped down to their level. Our house has now been cleaned,” said Mr. Siddaramaiah.
The 2018 Assembly polls had thrown up a fractured mandate in Karnataka. The numerical strength of parties, in the the House of 225, stood at 105 for BJP, 78 (Plus, one of Speaker) for Congress and 37 for JDS. The Congress and JDS had come together to form a coalition as a counter to the BJP.