BS Yeddyurappa, who was the Chief Minister of the state for two days, has threatened a state-wide stir on Monday if the Kumaraswamy government did not waive farmer loans.

HDK sails through trust vote but a sore Yeddyurappa gets some punches in at the Assembly
news Politics Friday, May 25, 2018 - 18:53

The drama that ensued after the results of the Karnataka elections came to an end on Friday, after the BJP staged a dramatic walk-out before the confidence motion on the floor of the Assembly.

The JD(S)-Congress alliance led by HD Kumaraswamy won the motion of trust unopposed and will now form the government in the state.

The 10-day long political drama saw more theatrics when BS Yeddyurappa, who was the Chief Minister of the state for two days, threatened a state-wide stir on Monday if the Kumaraswamy government did not waive farmer loans. He walked out with his fellow BJP MLAs immediately after the announcement.  

The tense ending to the day was a far cry from the events leading up to it. The day began amicably with the BJP choosing to withdraw Suresh Kumar as its nominee for the post of Speaker. This paved the way for Congress MLA Ramesh Kumar to take charge as the Speaker for the second time.

He was previously the speaker from 1994 to 1999, a fact referenced by both BJP and Congress leaders in the gushing tributes they paid to him after he was elected. "Even in 1994, there was a formidable Opposition, but you handled the House responsibilities well. You are a friend, philosopher and guide for the entire house," said Suresh Kumar, who delivered a concession speech.

Following the tributes, the Speaker invited Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy to speak even as Congress leader DK Shivakumar prowled the Assembly floor making sure that the MLAs were in their seats.

Kumaraswamy began by questioning the BJP's claim to power following the elections. "We have put together a coalition that nobody can budge. The Opposition had ideas that they got the people's mandate. Even now, I am trying to understand what kind of a mandate they got," he said, measuring each word carefully.

He went on to reveal that the JD(S) accepted the Congress' support to form a coalition government in the state. "Ghulam Nabi Azad called me up and suggested that we should form a coalition government.  We accepted the offer," he said.

Kumaraswamy further pointed out that this was a chance to set previous mistakes right. "My father had said he will disown me if the JD(S) forms an alliance with the BJP. The alliance we struck last time is a black spot in his political career and I want to set the mistakes right," he said.

In 2006, Kumaraswamy signed an agreement to share power with the BJP. The agreement stated that he would be the Chief Minister for 20 months, while Yeddyurappa would take oath as CM for another 20 months. However, Kumaraswamy refused to resign after 20 months, which led to the BJP pulling out of the coalition. The government fell soon after.

Kumaraswamy also urged the BJP to not take to the streets in protest and instead play the role of a constructive Opposition. "(Pointing at Yeddyurappa) You have talked about farmer rights, rights of slum dwellers and Dalits in the run-up to the polls. You have also spoken about the waiver of farmer loans. I urge all Opposition leaders to give the information on farmer deaths to us and not take to the streets in protest," he said.

When the Speaker invited BS Yeddyurappa to speak, he launched an attack on the Kumaraswamy-led coalition government. "The Congress high command called Kumaraswamy to Delhi and none of the leaders from the state. They took the decisions. From today, our fight is not against the Congress or any Congress leader. Our fight is against the corrupt father-and-son duo" he said training his guns on Kumaraswamy.

The BJP leader's speech was marred by several interruptions, most notably when Congress leader DK Shivakumar objected to Yeddyurappa calling him 'kalanayaka' (villain). Shivakumar clarified that "he was only following party orders" as a commotion broke out in the House. It was the Speaker who brought order in the House once again when he quipped, "When you are a villain to him, you are a hero to someone else."

Yeddyurappa however rallied after the interruption to criticise the new Chief Minister and his alliance members, specifically pulling Kumaraswamy up for his failure to waive farmer loans, in spite of coming to power. "Waiver of farm loans of Rs 53,000 crore. Rs 6,000 pension a month for senior citizens. Rs 6,000 a month for pregnant mothers. Loan waiver for women's self-help groups. We will welcome this," he said, shaking his finger in anger amid more murmurs of objections in the House.

Kumaraswamy, who had earlier promised to waive farmer loans within 24 hours of taking oath as Chief Minister backtracked, on his stance on Wednesday. "I cannot decide alone. I need to speak to Congress leaders and I need time for that,” he had said earlier.  

Eventually, it was the issue of waiving farmer loans that turned out to be the sticking point in the House and leading to the day's flash point, which saw Yeddyurappa threaten a state-wide bandh on Monday if the Kumaraswamy-led government failed to waive farmer loans. This was followed by BJP leaders staging a walkout from the House, allowing Kumaraswamy to win the trust vote unopposed.

The Congress-JD(S) alliance appeared to be unmoved by Yeddyurappa's threat with Shivakumar later saying that the BJP cannot blackmail the government. The government now has two days to not only discuss its cabinet but also devise a response to the BJP's threat.

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