Faced with the threat of desertions, the Congress and JD(S) leadership in Bengaluru attempted to put on a brave face even as Yeddyurappa was sworn in as CM.

Tepid sloganeering scorching heat kill the mood at Congress-JDS protest
Karnataka Elections Karnataka 2018 Thursday, May 17, 2018 - 17:34

With Mahatma Gandhi looking down upon them, senior Congress leaders Siddaramaiah, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Dr G Parameshwara and KC Venugopal wore somber looks on Thursday morning as they waited for their party MLAs to arrive from Eagleton Resorts.

Congress MLAs along with their new ally – the JD(S) were gathering to protest against Governor Vajubhai Vala’s decision to invite BJP to form the government. This after their midnight challenge at the Supreme Court to stay the swearing-in ceremony of BS Yeddyurappa failed.  

As Congress’ top brass sat on the steps outside the Vidhana Soudha, awaiting the arrival of its 78 MLAs and 38 JD(S)’s legislators, news of Yeddyurappa’s swearing in reached them. Faced with the threat of desertions, the Congress leadership in Bengaluru attempted to put on a brave face.

“We are all united. No one is leaving the party and we have the majority to form the government. According to the recent Supreme Court order, the coalition government with majority must be invited to form the government. We are here to protest the Governor’s decision,” Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President Dr G Paramaeshwara said. 

One by one, the buses ferrying the MLAs arrived, with Congress and JD(S) MLAs dressed uniformly – in crisp white shirts, with a black band around their arm.  JD(S) supremo Deve Gowda and party president and CM hopeful HD Kumaraswamy also soon arrived, voicing their anger and opposition against the Governor and the BJP.

The MLAs looked weary under the scorching sun. While a few designated persons shouted slogans, like “Murderer of democracy, Modi” and “Down, down Governor”, the seemingly uninterested MLAs could not muster the strength to express outrage despite Ghulam Nabi Azad’s attempts to motivate them. 

While senior Congress leaders Siddaramaiah and Malikarjun Kharge sat side by side, Deve Gowda set next to the latter, while his son Kumaraswamy sat next to the former CM. Siddaramaiah’s son and MLA-elect from Varuna Dr Yathindra was also present although he chose to remain on the sidelines, trying to avoid the spotlight. 

Tepid sloganeering soon turned to boredom with leaders from the sidelines shouting at MLAs to raise their voices. However, the four leaders in the centre had bigger fish to fry and were whispering amongst themselves.

Amid the sloganeering, many were quick to notice the conspicuous absence of Congress MLAs Anand Singh and Pratapgouda Patil. 

Sources told TNM that the two MLAs have jumped ship and switched loyalties to the BJP. 

Meanwhile, the Congress made a grand show of parading independent MLA from Mulbagal H Nagesh and Ranebennur KPJP MLA Shankar, who made headlines for switching camps from BJP to Congress in a matter of hours.

After posing for the cameras, they too went back to looking forlorn. 

As the MLAs’ indifference grew, Congress strategist DK Shivakumar fished out a megaphone and handed it over to the designated persons who were sloganeering. 

DK Shivakumar then announced that the senior leaders would speak. 

With the heat killing the mood, this did not happen and he soon ordered all MLAs to hop on to the buses and return to the resort. 

The MLCs from Congress and JD(S) were assigned the task of monitoring the movements of the legislators. This was to ensure that the MLAs don't disappear amidst the chaos of the media, who had surrounded the buses. 

DK Shivakumar counted the number of MLAs and began monitoring their entry into the buses. Within minutes, the buses rolled out from Vidhana Soudha.

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