Karnataka election results: BS Yeddyurappa takes oath as Karnataka chief minister
Bengaluru, Karnataka: Its attempts to fly its lawmakers out of Karnataka grounded, Congress and Janata Dal Secular (JDS) legislators are taking an overnight bus trip from Bengaluru to Telangana capital Hyderabad, some 580 km away. "We need to take some precautions to prevent horse-trading," HD Kumaraswamy, the JDS leader, who joined hands with rival Congress to become Karnataka chief minister, said. Last evening, the 100-odd lawmakers had been taken to two hotels to prevent the BJP from luring them as soon as it became clear that Governor Vajubhai Vala was going to invite BS Yeddyurappa to form government. The Congress-JDS combine responded by taking the battle to the Supreme Court that held a rare overnight hearing and will take up the case again on Friday.
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Congress leaders have alleged they wanted to fly out the legislators but were forced to take the long bus ride because aviation authorities declined permission for the chartered aircrafts that had been arranged. "The central government was kind enough to refuse all permission for flights so taking the road," former minister DK Shivakumar told NDTV during the overnight journey.
Jayant Sinha, Civil Aviation minister had earlier denied that the aviation regulator DGCA - initially blamed for the decision - could be involved. "Domestic charter flights do not require DGCA approval. They have to get their flight plan approved by local Air Traffic Control and then are free to fly," Mr Sinha tweeted his rejoinder, promising to provide all facts tomorrow.
Mr Kumaraswamy said the legislators from the Congress and JDS were going to be put up in the same hotel in the Telangana capital. They had been sequestered in different hotels for the last 24 hours and Congress leaders had earlier indicated the JDS was going to stay put in Bengaluru.
Former home minister Ramalinga Reddy told NDTV the decision to move out the legislators out of Karnataka was taken after some emissaries of the BJP sneaked into the Eagleton resort and attempted to bribe legislators. They had been encouraged by the fact that the security cover given to the legislators had been withdrawn by the Yeddyurappa government, he added.
The Congress had joined hands with former prime minister HD Deve Gowda's JDS to keep out the BJP which, with 104 seats, emerged as the single largest party though it was short of the majority mark of 112 seats. Late on Wednesday night, Governor Vajubhai Vala invited BJP's BS Yeddyurappa to form the government and gave him 15 days to prove his majority.
The Congress-JDs combine, which claims to have 116 legislators in the 222 member house, has alleged BJP leaders had made several attempts to bribe and threaten their lawmakers. Two lawmakers of the Congress have already gone missing. The Congress has told Mr Kumaraswamy that one of them, a mining businessman Anand Singh, had received threats that his cases would be fast-tracked if he didn't switch sides.
Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala's decision has also had a spillover effect - the Congress and its Bihar ally Tejashwi Yadav - have demanded a shot at government formation in states where they missed it. "If in Karnataka the single largest party got a chance to form government, then the governments in Goa, Bihar, Manipur and Meghalaya should resign and make way for the single largest party," Mr Surjewala said in a swipe at the BJP.
The Congress predicted that Mr Yeddyurappa's tenure could be cut short by the Supreme Court after Friday's hearing. "Yeddyurappa may prove to be "Ek din ka chief minister," (Chief Minister for just a day) Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, daring the BJP to prove its majority tomorrow. "Vajubhai Vala had sacrificed his seat for Modiji. Yesterday he sacrificed the constitution and democracy for Modiji," he added.
At its overnight hearing, the Supreme Court told the centre and Mr Yeddyurappa to produce by Friday morning the letters submitted to the governor to stake claim. The Congress says Mr Yeddyurappa did not claim to have the majority and had asked for 7 days to prove majority. The governor gave them 15 days. "It is the biggest license to poaching," said Abhishek Singhvi, who was representing the alliance in court.