After the Bharatiya Janata Party failed to prove its majority in the Karnataka Assembly today, B.S. Yeddyurappa resigned as chief minister of the southern state.
The combine of the Congress Party and the Janata Dal (Secular) still has to prove that it has the numbers to form the government.
Following 72 hours of high drama, which involved a midnight session at the Supreme Court, leaked audio tapes, and hidden lawmakers, the BJP failed to secure the seven MLAs that it needed to pass the floor test in the House.
Yeddyurappa resigned less than 48 hours after he took oath as chief minister.
"If only they had given us 113 seats instead of 104 seats, we would have turned this state into paradise," he said in an emotionally charged speech. "I am resigning as chief minister."
Addressing the media shortly after Yeddyurappa resigned, Congress Party president Rahul Gandhi said that his party's alliance with the JD(S) had yielded more votes. "We have protected the mandate of the people of Karnataka," he said. "There is no competition if you calculate the vote share."
Not only did the Congress secure a higher vote share (38%) in 2018 than it did in 2013 (36.6%), its vote share exceeded that of the BJP by almost two percentage points in the recently concluded election.
On May 15, the BJP emerged as the single largest party, but it was short of the 111 seats needed to form a majority government. The polling for two Assembly constituencies was postponed. With 78 and 37 seats respectively, the Congress and the JD(S) made a post-poll alliance and approached Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala to form the government.
While the BJP cut-short its premature celebrations, the Congress rushed to offer its unconditional support to the JD(S), founded by former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda, and agreed that his son, H.D. Kumaraswamy, would be the chief minister of Karnataka.
Vala, however, allowed Yeddyurappa to be chief minister and gave 15 days for the BJP to prove its majority. The Supreme Court, moved by the Congress shortly after midnight on Thursday, gave the BJP till 4:00 pm today for the same task.
The Congress and JD(S) lawmakers were sequestered to avoid any contact with the BJP.
In the final 12 hours leading up to the floor test, the Congress released at least five audio recordings which the party said was proof of the BJP trying to bribe its lawmakers.
In the first audio tape, released on Friday evening, the Congress alleged that Janardhan Reddy, the former BJP minister and scam tainted mining baron from Bellary, said the following things to Basanagouda Daddala, the Congress lawmaker from Raichur: "You will make 100 times the wealth you made so far...," You will become minister,"... and "I will arrange a meeting with national president."
The BJP has rubbished allegations of horse trading.
In his speech today, Yeddyurappa accused the Congress of taking away the phones of its lawmakers and violating the tenets of democracy. The Lingayat leader said that he had hoped that lawmakers would have voted with their conscience, but then he proceeded to resign instead of opting for a floor test.
In his remarks to the media today, Gandhi accused Modi of authorizing horse trading in Karnataka. "The idea that he is fighting corruption is a blatant lie," he said.
Governor Vala's decision favoring the BJP triggered a volley of criticism over his arbitrary use of the discretionary powers given to Governors under Article 163 of the Constitution.
In Goa, Meghalaya and Manipur, even though the Congress had secured the highest number of seats in state elections, it was the BJP that formed the government after securing a majority through post-poll alliances.
Fight on its hand
The Karnataka election was called the semifinal ahead of the 2019 general election. Its outcome suggests that the the BJP has a fight on its hands.
For the Congress, as one senior leader had put it, the Karnataka election "was a matter of life or death."
While the Congress has managed to stall the BJP's quest for a "Congress-mukt Bharat," the absence of a clear victory could undermine Rahul Gandhi's position to lead a potential third-front against the BJP in 2019 general election.
Even though it fell short of securing a majority, the BJP has reason to believe that Narendra Modi-Amit Shah's formidable electoral machinery moving in tandem with religious polarization remains its best bet for 2019.
In a complete reversal of the 2013 election result, the BJP won seven out of eight Assembly constituencies in Dakshina Kannada and all five seats in Udupi, two deeply communalized districts in coastal Karnataka.
Meanwhile, former chief minister Siddaramaiah's move to grant Lingayats the status of a religious minority backfired. Not only did sitting ministers fail to get re-elected, the number of Lingayat leaders elected from the BJP was more than double that of the Congress.
While Yeddyurappa is one the tallest leaders of the Lingayats in the state, the BJP had characterised Siddaramaiah's move as an attempt to divide Hindus.
In his speech today, Yeddyurappa vowed to get "28 out of 28 seats" in the Lok Sabha election.
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