Karnataka election: Congress-JD(S) pass floor test, bringing post-poll drama to a close, for now

By Prarthana Mitra

Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy won the floor vote on Friday at the Vidhan Soudha, thereby consolidating his position as the head of the largest southern state after a tumultuous election. Congress MLA Kumar Rajesh, who had served as the Speaker in 1994-1999, was unanimously elected as the as the presiding officer of the House once again, by the congregated state assembly.

After getting the majority nod to form the house, Kumaraswamy asserted that the post-poll alliance between the Congress and JD(S) will complete its full five-year term. “Even in 2004, we saw hung Assembly and there were two coalitions back to back. This is not something new that Karnataka is seeing,” said the Chief Minister. ”People of Karnataka has not given a clear mandate. So we have decided to go ahead with coalition.”

However, BJP MLAs staged a walkout in protest ahead of the crucial vote of confidence where 117 MLAs voted in Kumaraswamy’s favour.

Here’s what happened at the House

The 58-year old who swore in as chief minister on Wednesday looked set to win the trial of strength in Karnataka assembly. After Speaker election around mid-day, Kumaraswamy addressed Ramesh, saying, “When my father was CM, you were the Speaker. When his son, I, is the CM again, you are the Speaker. I am honoured. Our government will give all the necessary cooperation…I strongly believe in your sense of responsibility, fairness in every task carried out by you.”

Initially fielding Suresh Kumar’s name as their nominee for the Speaker, BJP’s Yeddyurappa also congratulated Ramesh saying, “The Opposition will extend all their cooperation towards you. We withdrew our Speaker’s nomination out of respect and to maintain the prestige of the Speaker.”

Congratulations came pouring in from the Congress camp as well. Former chief minister Siddaramaiah said, In a democratic setup, the role of a speaker is a very important one. If democracy has to succeed, legislative assembly, council and parliament has to work effectively…It’s only when quality discussions are held in the house, that the democracy is upheld.”

In his address to the Karnataka Assembly ahead of the trust vote, Kumaraswamy questioned BJP leader BS Yeddyuarappa on claiming the mandate to form a government in Karnataka, when the numerical majority clearly resided in Congress, Janata Dal (S), BSP and independents combined. “We submitted the letter to the Governor requesting him to allow us to form the government. However, he chose to invite the single largest party and gave them 15 days’ time to prove their majority. This has not happened in other states,” Kumaraswamy said, as he moved the motion for the floor test.

He also pledged that his government will preserve a secular identity, and protect farmer’s rights and welfare, as the first order of things.

The proceedings observed a mass exodus by BJP leaders even as the floor test was underway and the Chief Minister was speaking. Yeddyurappa later warned of statewide protests if Kumaraswamy doesn’t waive farm loans worth Rs 53,000 crore in 24 hours, including the ones borrowed from nationalised banks, that he had allegedly promised within hours of assuming office, according to PTI.

Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius