Yeddyurappa sworn-in as Karnataka CM, testing times ahead

Bengaluru, May 17: BJP veteran Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yeddyu-rappa was on Thursday sworn in as the 23rd Chief Minister of Karnataka though a legal battle lay ahead regarding the validity of Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala calling him to form the government.
The Indian National Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) combine asserted that they had the majority and should have been called first.
It was a case of the war won but the battle continuing for the 75-year-old farmer’s leader, who was administered the oath of office and secrecy by the Governor, at a hurriedly-called swearing in ceremony at the Raj Bhavan.
Besides the court, a tough floor test and the election of the new Speaker awaited the Bharatiya Janata Party.
After a night-long legal battle where the Congress had challenged the Governor’s invitation to the BJP and sought a stay, the Supreme Court in the pre-dawn hours declined to stay the swearing-in ceremony.
The three-member bench, comprising justices AK Sikri, SA Bobde and Ashok Bhushan, said swearing-in and government formation will be subject to the outcome of the petition before it.
It will, the apex court said, also hear other respondents including the BJP.. The bench issued notice to respondents, including BJP, and asked them to file their replies by Friday.
The Supreme Court directed Mr Yeddyurappa to produce the documents he had provided to the Governor while staking claim to form the government and postponed the hearing to 1030 hrs on Friday morning.
Stepping into the Vidhana Soudha for the third time as Chief Minister, Yeddyurappa expressed confidence that he would win the vote of confidence much ahead of the June 1 deadline set by the Governor.
He wanted the 222-member House to vote as per their conscience.
With a green shawl draped over his shoulders, Yeddyurappa said that he would take a decision in a couple of days on waiver of loans to farmers and weavers as promised in the party manifesto.
The ceremony was a solemn affair and though there were indications that several other ministers would be sworn in, Yeddyurappa took the oath alone in the name of God and farmers, reserving the expansion post his confidence vote in the Assembly. He hinted that the expansion would be a grand affair.
This is the third time that Yeddyurappa took the reins of the state.
In November 2007, he was the Chief Minister for just a week as the JD(S) failed to support his government. In May 2008, he returned to power with the party securing 110 seats and managed to get majority through what was then called the ‘Operation Kamal’ in which the tainted iron ore mining baron and former Minister Gali Janardhana Reddy played a significant role.
He had to step down in November 2011 with the BJP central leadership seeking his resignation in the wake of corruption charges highlighted by the then Loyayukta Santosh Hegde and a host of criminal petitions filed against him in land de-notification issues.
Among those present at the swearing-in ceremony included party general secretary Muralidhar Rao, in-charge of the state, Union Ministers Ananth Kumar, Prakash Javdekar, Dharmendra Pradhan, J P Nadda and Mr Sadananda Gowda, besides a host of state BJP leaders and newly-elected MLAs.
Even as the swearing in ceremony was underway, the members of the Congress and JD (S) staged a protest in front of the Gandhi statue in the Vidhan Soudha complex. They voiced their ire over the move of the Governor to overlook Supreme Court verdict and past precedence in other states and invite the single largest party instead of the Congress-JD(S) alliance.
It contended that they had the higher numerical strength of 117, six more than the magic number of 111 required to form the government.
Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and senior leaders of both the parties, including AICC observers Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ashok Gehlot, former Chief Minister Siddaramiah, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee chief G Parmeshawar, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjuna Kharge and JD(S) State President H D Kumaraswamy took part in the protest.
Tremors erupted in Bihar, Goa and Manipur where sidelined Opposition protested against the installation of the incumbent dispensations.
Kumaraswamy told media that he would write to leaders of opposition parties, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to express solidarity and condemn the anti constitutional role of the governor.
Addressing a news conference, Yeddyurappa said proving majority will not be a problem for him as there were many newly-elected MLAs who were unhappy over the recent developments in the state after the May 12 Assembly elections.
Yeddyurappa recalled the example of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who had sought confidence vote in the Lok Sabha despite not having majority but won after making an emotional appeal to the members. ‘I am confident that all 222 members of the Legislative Assembly would vote as per conscience when I seek vote of confidence,’ he said.
On the farm loan waiver, he said he had promised to write off agriculture loans to the tune of Rs one lakh of public sector and cooperative bank loans within 24 hours of becoming Chief Minister but the top officials including Chief Secretary Chandra Prabha had sought at least 24 hours time as they had to compile the data. ‘I will announce the loan waiver within one or two days and keep my promise,’ he said.
Yeddyurappa said, ”Please wait for two days. Then everything will be clear.”
After nearly four hours of protest, Congress legislators returned to Eagleton Resort on the outskirts of the city, while JD(S) MLAs went back to their upscale five-star hotel.
Leaders of the two parties will hold a meeting to chalk out the future course of action, according to sources in the INC.
Kumaraswamy alleged that, according to information received by him, the Modi government was threatening Congress MLA Anand Singh with raid by Enforcement Directorate if he supports his party Congress in the formation of the Government.
“Though Anand Singh was elected on a Congress ticket, he was threatened not to support that party otherwise face action from ED,” he added.
Within hours of his swearing-in, Yeddyurappa ordered transfer of four IPS officers with immediate effect.
According to an official notification released to the press here, Amar Kumar Pandey, who was Additional DGP, Railways, was posted as ADGP, Intelligence, while, Sandeep Patil Dy IGP, KSRP, was posted as Dy IGP, Intelligence.
D Devaraj, Superintendent of Police, Bidar, was posted as Deputy Commissioner of Police, Central Division, while S Girish, SP, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) was transferred as Deputy Commissioner of Police, North East Division, Bengaluru.
In his maiden address to party workers and newly elected lawmakers, Yeddyurappa alleged that the newly elected members of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) were being kept in confinement with no freedom and in harsh conditions.
Citing intelligence reports, he alleged that the members were also not allowed to speak to their families and their mobile phones have been snatched.
He said that such efforts would not prevent the BJP from securing majority during the vote of confidence which he would prove on the floor of the Assembly earlier than the 15 day deadline given by Governor.
He appealed to the legislators to return to their constituencies and thank the voters for their mandate. He said they might be summoned in short notice whenever the date for Assembly Session was decided and asked them to be prepared. (UNI)