The coalition government in Karnataka fell yesterday after beleaguered Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy lost a trust vote in the assembly by six votes.
The floor test was held after a four-day long marathon debate on the confidence motion Kumaraswamy moved on July 18.
“Chief Minister Kumaraswamy has lost the floor test, as 99 votes were in favour of the confidence motion and 105 against it,” assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar announced after the trust vote.
Of the 225-member assembly, 20 legislators were absent for the floor test, reducing its strength to 204 with 103 as the halfway mark for a simple majority.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will stake claim to form the next government in Karnataka today after meeting Governor Vajubhai Vala, state BJP leader R Ashoka said.
Vala yesterday accepted the resignation of Kumaraswamy as the chief minister of the 14-month-old Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress coalition government.
“Kumaraswamy moved the motion for trust vote. As per the procedure, a voice vote was conducted first, followed by division of voters after opposition leader B S Yeddyurappa of the BJP pressed for division. I will vote only if there is a tie. To save the dignity of the chair, I will not vote now,” the speaker said.
In the division of votes, 99 were for the motion and 105 against it.
Of the 20 legislators who were absent from the floor test, 15 were rebels of the JD (S)-Congress coalition. Two Congress members are in hospitals in Bengaluru and Mumbai, and the others are two independents and one Bahujan Samaj Party member.
The political crisis gripped the fledgling government in the state after 13 Congress and three JD-S rebels resigned between July 1 and 10.
Senior Congress lawmaker and former minister R Ramalinga Reddy, however, withdrew his resignation and voted in favour of the motion yesterday.
Though the BJP sought Kumaraswamy’s resignation for losing majority in the assembly after the rebels refused to withdraw their resignations, and two independents, who were ministers in his 34-member cabinet, withdrew support, a defiant outgoing chief minister moved the confidence motion to prove majority in the hope that the rebels will return to the coalition fold.
It was on May 23, 2018, that Kumaraswamy assumed office with great fanfare. It was billed to be a defining occasion not because the Congress supported the JD(S) to deny the BJP an opportunity to lead the government in the state but because they believed this would shape a grand coalition of opposition across the nation to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP in the 2019 parliamentary elections.
Meanwhile, the Congress is considering disqualifying 14 legislators who have tendered their resignations, party sources indicated.
“The rebel MLAs have resigned from the House. They have not resigned as party members. Thus they can be disqualified,” a senior Congress party source said.
He said the party MLAs, who resigned in the last two weeks were still the Congress members and they were bound to follow the whip of the Congress.
“As they have not followed the party’s whip, the party can disqualify them,” he said.
Prior to the resignations, the Congress had 79 MLAs and the JD(S) 37. Along with the two independents and the BSP member, it had 118 members, just five more than the simple majority mark.
A ‘whip’ is an order issued by a political party to their legislators to be present and voting as per the party’s direction during a debate. If a legislator does not follow the ‘whip’, they can be disqualified.