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  India   All India  18 May 2018  BS Yeddyurappa takes oath in Karnataka amid protests

BS Yeddyurappa takes oath in Karnataka amid protests

Published : May 18, 2018, 5:34 am IST
Updated : May 18, 2018, 6:26 am IST

Congress, JD-S MLAs being sent to Kochi resort; New CM ‘101% sure’ of proving majority.

BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa flashes the victory sign at Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru. (Photo: PTI)
 BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa flashes the victory sign at Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru. (Photo: PTI)

Bengaluru: Senior BJP leader and former CM B.S.Yeddyurappa was sworn in as the 24th chief minister of Karnataka at 9 am here on Thursday by state governor Vajubhai Vala. He took the oath in the name of “God and farmers”. This came after the Supreme Court, after an extraordinary hearing for over three hours in the early hours Thursday, refused to issue a stay order on the swearing-in as sought by the Congress and Janata Dal (S).

As Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) held a protest at the Mahatma Gandhi statue near the Vidhana Soudha, the 75-year-old Lingayat strongman walked into Raj Bhavan, a green shawl thrown over his shoulders, to a rousing welcome by party workers and leaders to be sworn in for the third time as Karnataka’s chief minister.

After a brief meeting with state officials, he addressed a press conference where he told the waiting media that he would prove his majority on the floor of the Assembly even before the 15 days given by the governor were up, and was confident that all 224 MLAs would go by their conscience and vote in favour of the people’s verdict.

“The Congress and the JD(S) formed an unholy alliance even after the people outright rejected them. We are confident we will win the trust vote and rule for five years. I will not wait for the 15 days given by the governor to prove my majority,” he said confidently.

But Mr Yeddyurappa did not explain how his government intended to get the support of the nine MLAs it needed to be able to continue in office. “The matter is pending before the Supreme Court, I don’t want to discuss this,” he said when asked about it.

Saying that he was “101 per cent sure” of winning the trust vote and forming a full-fledged government, Mr Yeddyurappa said he would invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party president Amit Shah and other senior BJP leaders and the chief ministers of BJP-ruled states on the occasion.

“As I promised farmers during my campaign to waive off crop loans of upto `1 lakh taken from nationalised banks and cooperative societies, I have already discussed the matter with the chief secretary and instructed her to have the details ready in two days,” the chief minister said.

The Congress’ top brass, including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge and Ashok Gehlot, sat on a dharna in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue, and were later joined by JD(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda and the combine’s chief ministerial contender H.D. Kumaraswamy.

Congress MLAs, who were lodged at Eagleton Resort under the watch of resourceful party MLA and minister in the Siddaramaiah government D.K. Shivakumar, were brought to the venue for some time before being herded back.

The newly-elected JD(S) MLAs are staying at the upscale Shangri-La Hotel here. Attacking the Prime Minister, Mr Kumaraswamy said Mr Narendra Modi was out to “demolish” democracy. Calling the governor’s decision “unconstitutional”, he claimed the PM was using Central agencies like the Enforcement Directorate to threaten Congress and JD(S) MLAs to break ranks and support the BJP government.

“Look at how this Central government is behaving! This Narendra Modi government wants to demolish democracy in the country,” Mr Kumaraswamy told the

journalists. He said it was probably for the first time that a party without a majority was given 15 days to prove it on the floor of the House. “They are threatening and putting pressure on our MLAs,” he said. “We will parade our legislators in front of Raj Bhavan and stage a protest. I have sought the cooperation of leaders of all regional parties to join hands with us to save the country,” he told reporters.

As for Congress MLA Anand Singh being approached by the BJP, Mr Kumaraswamy accused the BJP of threatening him, using the Enforcement Directorate and the income-tax department as it had done with so many others in the past.

“The BJP is trying to come to power through shortcuts. We have to save our legislators and have kept them in a safe place,” he added.

Amid reports of Central agencies likely to hound them and facing “psychological pressure” from the BJP to switch sides, Congress and JD(S) leaders developed cold feet and packed off their newly-elected legislators to Kochi in Kerala by a special flight on Thursday.

On Thursday morning, before leaving for Tirupati, former Prime Minister and JD(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda had assured the leaders of both parties that nothing would happen and asked them to stay back. However, later in the afternoon, the BJP allegedly started exerting pressure even as rumours started doing the rounds in both the Congress and JD(S) camps about “likely raids”. At around 8.30 pm, all the legislators were huddled into a special aircraft to be sent to a resort in Kochi, Kerala.

Late-night television reports said, however, that the DGCA had not cleared the flights by three chartered planes, and these had been cancelled. It was learnt that the MLAs may now be sent by bus to Kochi or any other destinations.

In a related development, former CM Siddaramaiah brought back the Independent candidate from Ranebennur, Mr R. Shankar, who was “hijacked” by the BJP earlier, back to the Congress-JD(S) camp at a time when the BJP camp allegedly triggered rumours that Mr Siddaramaiah was silently joining hands with the BJP.

Mr Shankar is a close associate of Mr Siddaramaiah, and had contested and won against former Speaker K.B. Koliwad. Soon after the results, the BJP took him away and kept him under the vigilant eyes of Mr Eshwarappa.

Learning about this, Mr Siddaramaiah entrusted the task of bringing back Mr Shankar to the Congress fold to his close aide, Mr Byrathi Basavaraj. Mr Basavaraj went to Mr Eshwarappa’s house on the pretext of talking to him,

got Mr Shankar inside his car and drove him back Since then, he has remained in the coalition camp, said sources.

Mr Yeddyurappa, who headed to Raj Bhavan after doing a puja at the Radhakrishna Temple in Sanjaynagar, bowed his head on entering the Vidhana Soudha as a mark of respect and went on to meet the chief secretary and other senior IAS officers to discuss the financial health of the state and law and order matters. One of his first order of business was the appointment of senior advocate Prabhuling Navadgi as the new advocate-general of the state following the change of government. Mr Navadgi, a former additional solicitor-general who

represented the Union government in the Karnataka high court in 2015, succeeds Madhusudan Naik who resigned after the Congress government lost the Assembly polls.

On assuming office on Thursday, the chief minister also changed the principal secretary to the CM, besides making some changes in the police department.

Meanwhile, on Thursday the BJP claimed two Congress MLAs, Anand Singh and Pratapgowda Patil, had switched sides to it and that its strength had gone up to

106. However, that still leaves it short of five MLAs to reach the crucial halfway mark of 111 in the present Assembly of 221 seats.

According to the rulebook, the governor is expected to appoint the seniormost member of the Assembly as pro- tem Speaker, who will initiate the business of electing a full-term Speaker after administering the oath to all 221 members, according to Mr Ompraksh, former secretary of the Legislative Assembly.

Tags: bs yeddyurappa, vajubhai vala, amit shah
Location: India, Karnataka, Bengaluru