The 55-hour-old BS Yeddyurappa-led BJP government in Karnataka collapsed on Saturday, minutes before the scheduled trust vote, with the chief minister resigning in a tame anti-climax to what promised to be on the edge of seat political thriller.
With defeat staring him in the face, Yeddyurappa announced his decision to quit on the floor of the Assembly after a brief emotion-laden speech.
Though exuding confidence about winning the trust vote, as the D-day loomed he failed to muster support of 7 additional MLAs required to ensure the longevity of his government.
"I am going to resign as chief minister. I will go to Raj Bhavan and submit my resignation."
"I will not face confidence vote. I am going to resign," he told the assembly at the end of a brief emotional speech, and headed straight to the Raj Bhavan where he handed over his resignation to Governor Vajubhai Vala.
The 75-year-old Lingayat stalwart's resignation will pave the way for formation of a government led by JD(S) state chief HD Kumaraswamy, who has the backing of the Congress.
The newly formed alliance has claimed support of 117 MLAs in the 224-member House with an effective strength of 221.
'Lesson for BJP, RSS'
Congress President Rahul Gandhi attacked the BJP and the RSS following resignation of Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa, saying hopefully they got a lesson that institutions and will of the country cannot be disrespected.
Gandhi addressed the media in New Delhi shortly after Yeddyurappa resigned ahead of the crucial trust vote, as the BJP could not muster the numbers in the assembly.
He accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of promoting corruption in Karnataka to gain support for the BJP, which emerged the single-largest party amid split verdict thrown up by the May 12 assembly election.
"The Prime Minister is encouraging corruption," Gandhi alleged.
The Congress leader congratulated members of his party and the Janata Dal-Secular for standing up to the pressure and not allowing the BJP to wean away their MLAs.
"I hope the BJP and the RSS learnt lessons that institutions of the country and the will of the country cannot be disrespected," Gandhi said.
Karnataka Battle: What happened so far
The political instability in the state stemmed from a split verdict the electorate gave on May 15, with the BJP emerging as the single-largest party but falling short of a majority.
The Congress, which finished second with 78 seats, moved swiftly and stitched an alliance with 37-member JD(S), and even backed its leader HD Kumaraswamy for chief ministership, plunging the state into a welter of confusion, with accusations of bribery and poaching flying thick and fast.
Amid allegations of poaching attempts by the BJP, the Congress herded its MLAs at a resort outside Bengaluru, while those of the JD(S) hunkered down in a hotel in the state capital.
They were later shifted to a hotel in Hyderabad and returned only after the Supreme Court yesterday ordered a floor test on a Congress-JD(S) petition.
As things grew murkier, the Congress released audio tape where Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa was purportedly heard trying to lure an MLA with the promise of a ministerial berth if he backed the BJP government during the trust vote.
There were allegations that Congress MLA Anand Singh was "abducted" by the BJP, but he turned up at the Vidhana Sauda minutes before Yeddyurappa began his speech. He was seen shaking hands with fellow Congress members and then sat with them.
An emotional Yeddyurappa gave enough indications of his resignation during his speech when he said,"I have seen the struggle of farmers, gave land to them, wiped their tears.
"I wanted to waive their loans up to Rs 1 lakh... but..." He recalled his struggles as a politician, and said how he helped build the party, which once had just two MLAs. Now it has 104, he said.
"I went to the houses of poor, stayed with them. I have faced trial by fire all my life, but I will serve my people till my last breath," Yeddyurappa said, his voice choking as he fought back tears."
Regaining composure, Yeddyurappa said he would now travel across Karnataka and ensure the party won all 28 seats of the state in the Lok Sabha elections and 156 in the next Assembly polls.
The 8-term MLA and twice an MP, Yeddyurappa then announced his decision to step down.
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who along with several top party leaders were present during the floor test, thanked the judiciary for preventing "horse-trading" and "protecting the Constitution, democracy and rule of law".
Azad said the governor gave 15 days time to Yeddyurappa as he was convinced he lacked the support of MLAs required to clear the floor test. "The governor gave them two weeks for breaking our parties....for horse-trading," he said. He said the alliance was now waiting for an invitation from the governor to form the government.
Yeddyurappa's shortest stint
It was Yeddyurappa's shortest stint in power. He became the chief minister for the first time for seven days in 2007, but his government collapsed as the JD(S) reneged on honouring a power sharing arrangement and withdrew support.
He became the chief minister for a second time when the BJP formed its first government in Karnataka in 2008.
Yeddyurappa was at the helm of the state for over three years before he was made to quit following indictment by the Lokayukta in an alleged mining scam.
'Victory of secular forces'
Left parties and the Trinamool Congress have termed the resignation of Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa without facing a trust vote a "victory of secular democratic forces".
"It's a victory of secular democratic forces. The BJP never had the numbers, but the governor invited them to form government. The party was given time for horse-trading. Karnataka showed that the BJP's downslide has started," CPI leader D Raja said.
Secular democratic parties should learn a lesson from Karnataka that the BJP can be kept at bay by forming an alliance.
Congratulating the JD(S)-Congress combine , Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee says it was a victory of regional forces.
"Democracy wins. Congratulations Karnataka. Congratulations Deve Gowda Ji, Kumaraswamy Ji, Congress and others. Victory of the 'regional' front," she tweeted.
Banerjee has mooted the idea of a Federal Front to take on the Narendra Modi government in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The DMK has said democracy in Karnataka has been saved by the actions of the Supreme Court and greeted the leadership of the JD(S) and Congress after BJP strongman BS Yeddyurappa resigned as chief minister minutes before the scheduled trust vote.
"May this herald the coming together of secular parties for the upcoming elections," DMK working president MK Stalin said in a tweet.
"Democracy in Karnataka has been saved by the actions of the Supreme Court. I extend my congratulations to @hd_kumaraswamy and @INCIndia..." he tweeted.
Apparently taking a dig at the BJP, actor and Makkal Needhi Maiam chief Kamal Haasan said "let the light of democracy that has come up in Karnataka spread throught out the nation."
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'BJP should Learn lessons'
Bahujan Samaj Party President Mayawati has condemned BJP for the use of "inappropriate methods" to form their governments in various states and said that the party should take lessons from their defeat in Karnataka for next year's general elections.
She said that BJP's "inappropriate" methods of winning elections by "buying and selling of votes" won't work for long. "They have used such methods in many states across the country," she said.
"They misused the Centre's machinery at a very large scale. The Governors appointed by them are not allowed to work freely, and are under huge pressure of working according to the party," she said, adding the dignity of their position was at stake.
"If they (the Governors) can't work freely, then they should resign."
Mayawati also said that the BJP tried to do all sorts of things to form the government in Karnataka but this kind of politics didn't work for them.
"The Supreme Court had to show strictness to ensure that the state assembly is formed according to the rules.
"They (the BJP) have got such a big shock after this defeat that the strategy that was being worked on for 2019 Lok Sabha elections will have to be altered."
Kumaraswamy to take oath as CM on May 21; Mamata, KCR among others invited
Karnataka Governor Vajubhai R Vala on Saturday invited Janata-Dal-Secular's legislative party leader H.D. Kumaraswamy to form the next government in the state, following the resignation of BJP's B.S. Yeddyurappa ahead of his trust vote.
"The Governor has invited me to form the next government as the leader of the JD-S legislative party with the support of the Congress, which is our alliance partner," Kumaraswamy told reporters at the Raj Bhavan after the meeting.
The JD-S leader also said the Governor had given him 15 days to prove that he had majority in the 224-member legislative assembly, whose strength is currently 222. He also said that regional leaders including Mamata Banerjee, Chandrababu Naidu, KCR have been invited for the swearing-in ceremony on Monday.
"He will take the oath as the Chief Minister on Wednesday, May 23 at around 12:30pm," JDS leader Danish Ali informed the media on Saturday.
(With inputs from PTI, IANS)