The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) B S Yeddyurappa, sworn in as Karnataka chief minister a day before, on Friday said he would obey the Supreme Court’s direction to face a floor test at 4 pm on Saturday. He was confident that he would be able to prove a majority, he added.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court reduced the 15-day window the BJP had been given by Governor Vajubhai Vala to prove its majority in the House and ordered that Yeddyurappa face a floor test on Saturday itself. The court was hearing the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) combine's plea challenging the Governor's decision to invite the BJP to form the next government in the state after the May 12 Assembly election threw up a fractured mandate. Even as Yeddyurappa said he was 100 per cent confident of proving full majority, the Congress termed the apex court's judgment "historic".
The hearing came after the apex court issued notices to the Karnataka government and Yeddyurappa seeking their replies on the plea filed by the Congress and JD(S), which have opposed Yeddyurappa's swearing-in and termed Governor Vajubhai Vala's decision to invite the BJP to form the government as "unconstitutional". Meanwhile, the Congress on Friday observed 'Save Democracy Day' across the country.
On Thursday, Governor Vala administered the oath of office and secrecy to Yeddyurappa at the Raj Bhavan in a morning ceremony. Vala has told Yeddyurappa to prove within 15 days that he has the majority in the Legislative Assembly. Although the BJP emerged as the single-largest party, winning 104 seats, in the May 12 assembly election, it fell short of eight seats from the 112-halfway mark in the lower House. The Congress trailed behind the saffron party with 78 seats and the regional JD(S) with 37 seats.
Here are the top ten developments around the BJP versus Congress-JD(S) tussle over government formation in Karnataka:
1) Yeddyurappa '100 per cent confident' of proving full majority: Commenting on the Supreme Court's order for a floor test, Karnataka Chief Minister Yeddyurappa told news agencies that he will discuss the matter with the chief secretary and call for an Assembly session on Saturday. "We are 100 per cent confident that we will prove full majority," added Yeddyurappa.
Will discuss with Chief secretary and call for assembly session tomorrow. We are 100% confident that we will prove full majority: #Karnataka CM BS Yeddyurappa on Supreme Court's order for floor test pic.twitter.com/oE8V9q3sIu— ANI (@ANI) May 18, 2018
Further, BJP's Shobha Karandlaje told news agencies that the party welcomed the Supreme Court's order, adding that the party "will prove majority on the floor of the House tomorrow".
"We are ready for floor test," said Karandlaje.
We welcome the Supreme Court's order. We will prove majority on the floor of the House tomorrow, we are ready for floor test: Shobha Karandlaje, BJP pic.twitter.com/kMu1N2nHWp— ANI (@ANI) May 18, 2018
2) What options is BJP looking at? BJP Lok Sabha member Shobha Karandlaje tweeted that her party was in contact with Congress legislators who were upset with the party leadership for aligning with the JD(S).
Since the majority mark stands at 112, the BJP either needs the support of eight legislators to increase its numbers or it will have to bring the effective strength of the Assembly down with some legislators quitting. According to BJP sources cited by an earlier Business Standard report, the party has reached out to some of the Congress' Lingayat legislators. According to the report, these legislators are upset at the Congress supporting H D Kumaraswamy, a Vokkaliga. The BJP has asked these Congress legislators to quit their respective seats, and that the party will either help them get re-elected from the same seats in the by-elections, or they will be sent to the legislative council. Half a dozen Karnataka legislative council seats are to fall vacant in June.
Supreme Court also said that oath should be administered to all MLAs before the floor test tomorrow and BS Yeddyurappa cannot take any policy decisions until tomorrow: Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Congress pic.twitter.com/qcUUQNruYp— ANI (@ANI) May 18, 2018
4) Congress-JD(S) ready for floor test tomorrow: During Friday's hearing, Congress' lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi submitted to the Supreme Court that the Congress-JD(S) combine was ready for a floor test on Saturday.
Congress-JD(S) plea against #Karnataka Governor inviting BJP to form govt: Lawyer for Congress-JD(S), Abhishek Manu Singhvi, submits to Supreme Court that Congress-JD(S) are ready for floor test tomorrow.— ANI (@ANI) May 18, 2018
5) Supreme Court orders floor test in Karnataka Assembly tomorrow: The Supreme Court on Friday ordered a floor test in the Karnataka Assembly at 4 pm on Saturday, reducing the 15-day window given by the Governor to BJP Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa to prove majority. "Let the House decide and the best course would be floor test," a three-judge Bench headed by Justice A K Sikri said.
The apex court said the pro tem speaker will take decisions in accordance with the law on the issue of floor test.
The apex court also directed the Karnataka government and the Governor not to nominate any MLA from the Anglo-Indian community to participate in the floor test tomorrow.
The Bench also asked the newly-elected government not to take any major policy decision until it proves majority in the House.
It also ordered authorities including the DGP to ensure law and order outside the Karnataka Assembly.
The apex court made it clear that it would deal with the constitutionality of the Governor's letter inviting Yeddyurappa to form the government later.
The Bench said that ultimately, the question is about majority, which has to be proved in the floor test.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Chief Minister Yeddyurappa, had sought reasonable time until Monday for the floor test, but the Bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde and Ashok Bhushan, ordered that it be held tomorrow.
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6) Supreme Court turns down BJP's secret ballot request: The Supreme Court also turned down Yeddyurappa's request for a secret ballot during the floor test.
During the hearing, which went on for more than an hour, Yeddyurappa today placed before the apex court letters he had sent to Governor Vajubhai Vala in which he had staked claim to form the government in Karnataka.
Yeddyurappa told the Bench that being the single largest party, the BJP was the "mandate of people" of the state who have thrown out the Congress.
7) Congress, JD(S) MLAs shifted to Hyderabad: Karnataka Congress MLAs on Friday arrived at Hyderabad's Taj Krishna Hotel, with the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee head Uttam Kumar Reddy also present at the scene, news agency ANI reported.
However, according to News18, Congress MLAs on Friday reached the Park Hyatt hotel in Hyderabad. The report added that JD(S) MLAs would reach the hotel soon.
The Congress on Thursday had said that its MLAs, lodged at Eagleton Resort in Bengaluru, would be shifted in order to avoid alleged horse-trading attempts by the BJP. Congress leader Ramalinga Reddy had further said that JD(S) MLAs were not coming along with them. "We will be shifted today. We will tell you more later. JD(S) MLAs are not coming along. The place has not been decided yet," Reddy had told the media.8) Congress observing 'Save Democracy Day' today: The Congress on Friday will observe 'Save Democracy Day' across the country in protest against Karnataka Governor Vala's decision to "illegally" invite BJP's Yeddyurappa to form the government in the state. On Thursday, Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala accused the Karnataka Governor of colluding with the BJP and playing a "partisan" role in government formation in the state after the May 12 polls threw a split verdict.
Surjewala also accused Vala of "murdering" democracy and "trampling" the Constitution by inviting Yeddyurappa. "The Congress has decided that its workers and leaders will observe a 'Save Democracy Day' across the country on May 18 to highlight the Governor's trampling of the Constitution," he told reporters.
In a letter to party general secretaries, state unit presidents, and chiefs of frontal organisations, All India Congress Committee General Secretary Ashok Gehlot asked them to organise protests and dharnas at all state capitals and district headquarters against the 'partisan' role of the Governor. He also asked the party's state unit presidents and all senior leaders to lead a delegation to their respective governors and submit a memorandum urging the President "to safeguard the democratic principles and the sanctity of the Constitution".
9) BJP wooing Congress, JD(S) MLAs as SC sword hangs over its head: The BJP, for its part, is alert to the possibility that the Supreme Court could ask it to prove its majority on the floor of the Karnataka Assembly before schedule. With this in mind, the BJP on Thursday made efforts to woo Congress and JD(S) MLAs.
Mindful of the BJP's attempts, the Congress has taken its legislators to separate resorts to ensure that the saffron party couldn’t reach out to them. However, Congress sources conceded that two of the party’s legislators may have already defected. Congress said its legislator Anand Singh was being threatened by central probe agencies. Congress leader Ramalinga Reddy alleged that the security personnel were asked to leave by the state administration and BJP workers came in and started offering money to party legislators.
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10) BJP also preparing itself for future if it loses floor test: The BJP, as reported earlier by Business Standard, has also prepared for the eventuality of losing the floor test. Therefore, with an eye on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the first decision of newly-appointed Chief Minister Yeddyurappa was to reach out to the farmers of Karnataka. He has announced that all farm loans of up to Rs 100,000 would be written off.
With agency inputs