Behind one of the entrances to the Assembly floor in Karnataka Vidhana Soudha is where the media usually waits. During previous trust votes, a number of leaders came out of the Assembly lobby to address the media here.
But on Saturday, only one leader chose to address the media, giving almost hourly briefings. And that was Congress’s go-to man – DK Shivakumar.
Though they were all present, not a single BJP leader came out to brief the media or talk about the numbers.
And inside the Assembly, too, the scene was no different.
BJP leaders, who had initially appeared confident, started to look desperate and tense as the Assembly session progressed.
Inside the Assembly
At 11.00 am sharp, the Congress, JD(S) and BJP MLA-elects walked into the Karnataka Assembly, all of them wearing hopeful looks ahead of the crucial oath-taking ceremony and floor test.
The bell rang, the doors closed and the MLA-elects started taking oath. While all the elected representatives sat patiently, waiting for their turn to take the oath, one man looked uncertain and was seen moving in and out of the Assembly hall – the BJP MLA from Molakalmuru, B Sriramulu.
Sriramulu disappeared from the session for almost thirty minutes at a stretch, and from the press gallery, one could see other BJP leaders joining him for discussions.
Hubballi-Dharwad Central MLA and former CM Jagadish Shettar walked out of the hall to join Sriramulu, followed by Chikkamagaluru MLA CT Ravi. Soon, MPs Shobha Karandlaje, Ananth Kumar and Sadananda Gowda, too, walked out to hold talks.
Meanwhile, Congress and JD(S) leaders were seated in their designated spots and only got up for bathroom and tea breaks.
MLAs KJ George and Zameer Ahmed Khan looked amused and were seen laughing on multiple occasions.
Around 12.30 pm, Sriramulu walked back into the Assembly and brought a stack of papers into the Assembly and placed it in front of Yeddyurappa.
Yeddyurappa, who initially looked happy sitting in the chair designated for the Chief Minister, began reading through the pages in front of him.
Moments later, he too left the floor of the House. The meeting of BJP leaders was soon shifted to the Chief Minister's chamber, and that's when murmurs first came in that Yeddyurappa will step down.
The BJP leaders came back only when the session reconvened after 3.00 pm and Yeddyurappa started reading out his speech.
As the BJP leadership was huddled in meetings, the Congress leadership had their job cut out too. Congress members of the Legislative Council were given the task to watch over MLAs. They had to watch their every move and not let them out of their sight.
The MLAs were not allowed to step out of the Assembly hall except for bathroom breaks. Lunch was also organised in the lobby on the right side of the hall.
Outside the Assembly
As the swearing-in-ceremony of MLAs was going on inside the Assembly, the Supreme Court also issued an order stating that all the elected members must be present for the trust vote.
This meant that Congress MLA Anand Singh, who had allegedly been abducted by the BJP and MLA Pratapgouda Patil, who had snuck out of the Congress office, were to be brought into the Assembly to take oath.
The action then shifted to Goldfinch hotel on Race Course Road in the city. A large contingent of police, led by senior officers reached the hotel to ensure that both the Congress MLAs and BJP MLA Somashekara Reddy who was with them were brought back to the Assembly. Somashekara Reddy is the brother of Janardhana Reddy.
As both Pratapgouda Patil and Anand Singh reached the Vidhana Soudha seperately, DK Shivakumar and his men rushed out both times. DK was seen waiting right at the entrance, hugging the MLAs and escorting them inside. The BJP that had until then claimed that these MLAs had left the Congress were nowhere to be seen.
When Yeddyurappa's fate was sealed
A BJP insider says that though talks had been on with several Congress and JD(S) MLAs, there had been no confirmation from many.
“Yeddyurappa was also informed about the Congress releasing audio clips of him, his son Vijayendra, BJP leaders Muralidhar Rao and Sriramulu. This had sealed the BJP’s fate. Now, the potential turncoats in the Congress-JD(S) coalition were doubly convinced that siding with the BJP was a bad idea. There was also the bad news that Anand Singh and Pratapgouda Patil will be brought in,” a BJP source said.
At 3.30 pm, Yeddyurappa walked into the Assembly, his face grim and dejected. In his parting speech, he said, “Since 2016, I have been the chief of party in the state. And both PM Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah have said I will be the CM. As you know, constantly for the last year, I have travelled through the state and understood problems in each and every constituency.”
“The state has given me a lot of love and affection and support for this fight and gave us 104 seats in the Vidhana Soudha. In a democracy, the important thing is not who got how many seats. What is important is what the people want. There have been several agni parikshas in my life. This is not new for me... The members sitting on the other side I urge you to think about the current political situation in the state,” he added.
At this stage, Yeddyurappa had grown emotional. The history of his short-lived tenures as a CM was staring back at him and he was almost in tears. He took a dig at the Congress-JD(S) alliance and said, "I request all the legislators to vote on their conscience. But then you have scared the MLAs. You have not even allowed them to speak to their family members over the phone. You did not even trust your MLAs this much."
“I promise that the BJP will win all 28 seats in the Lok Sabha elections. I promise to dedicate my life for the farmers' cause and I will work towards it till the day I die. With these parting words, I tender my resignation and withdraw my motion for a trust vote,” Yeddyurappa said.
The BJP legislators began cheering their leaders in a show of support and a morose Yeddyurappa walked out of the Assembly, even as the National Anthem played. The BJP legislators immediately followed him out, with Siddaramaiah and RV Deshpande calling out to them to wait for the National Anthem to conclude.
Soon after the Assembly dispersed, overjoyed Congress and JD(S) leaders began celebrating and there was one man, whom they all credited their victory to – DK Shivakumar. He had won the game of one-upmanship against the BJP’s ace strategist – Amit Shah.
Meanwhile, Yeddyurappa’s car was waiting for him as he exited the west entrance of Vidhana Soudha with a smile fixed on his face. Yeddyurappa continued to smile as he drove away to Raj Bhavan to tender his resignation to the Governor.