The protracted trust vote proceedings ended in the Karnataka Assembly on Tuesday evening, with the 14-month-old H D Kumaraswamy-led Janata Dal (Secular) and Congress coalition government losing the confidence motion. There were 105 against and 99 votes for the government, with 20 legislators remaining absent in the 224-member House.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said it would stake claim to form the next government. B S Yeddyurappa (76), the BJP’s state unit chief who is expected to become chief minister for a fourth time, said people were fed up with the Kumaraswamy government and assured people of a development-oriented government. He also promised better days for farmers of Karnataka.
On the next step, Yeddyurappa said an appropriate decision would be taken "as early as possible”. He shares an uneasy relationship with the BJP’s central leadership.
While he remains the most popular BJP leader in the state, the party could groom a successor before the next Assembly elections in 2023, if the government survives until then.
The Congress-JD(S) government had defied the two deadlines set by Governor Vajubhai Vala to Kumaraswamy to demonstrate his majority on Friday itself. A wave of resignations had set off the political turbulence in the state. In the event, Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar did not disqualify the legislators currently housed in a Mumbai hotel.
Twenty MLAs —Congress-JD(S) (17), Bahujan Samaj Party (1), Independents (2) — skipped the proceedings, reducing the effective strength of the House to 204. The magic figure thus required was 103. Kumaraswamy, in his reply to the motion in the House, warned the BJP that its government would not last long "First bomb will explode in ministry formation," he said.
Industry representatives echoed Kumaraswamy. “The state was already going through a political uncertainty for the last 13-14 months and with today’s outcome, it looks like that the situation may not be any different in the months to come. No party has got an absolute majority and the stability of the government would always in question as money and power can’t keep any ally for a longer period. In such situation, the best thing probably is to go for election,” said Basavaraj Javali, president of the Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association.
But Prabhanjan Deshpande, co-founder, The Higher Pitch, a customer experience firm, appeared hopeful. “I do hope that this is a victory for the people of Karnataka, finally. I am a firm believer in a single-party government and hope to see the BJP speed up all the constructive projects, a lot of which have come to a halt,” Deshpande said.
After the loss, Kumaraswamy went to Raj Bhavan and submitted his resignation to Governor Vajubhai Vala. The resignation was accepted with immediate effect but Kumaraswamy was asked to continue as caretaker chief minister.
The Congress now has governments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Punjab and Puducherry. The Madhya Pradesh government of the Congress has a wafer-thin majority.