Congress protests as Yeddyurappa takes oath as CM

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader B S Yeddyurappa took oath as the 23rd chief minister of Karnataka on Thursday after the Supreme Court, in a post-midnight hearing, decided not to stay the swearing-in.

Top BJP leaders, including Union Ministers Anantha Kumar, JP Nadda, Dharmendra Pradhan and Prakash Javadekar were present at Raj Bhavan, the governor’s office, during the swearing-in ceremony at 9 am.

Scores of Congress leaders protested in front of Vidhana Soudha, the assembly building, over Governor Vajubhai Vala’s decision to invite the BJP to form government in Karnataka.

Anantha Kumar said Congress members should protest against party leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Siddaramaiah for ruining it.

Hailing the Supreme Court’s refusal to stop Yeddyurappa from taking oath, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said in his tweet that Congress is repeatedly denigrating the constitutional bodies of the country. Their midnight drama of challenging the governor’s decision was another example.

Federal minister Piyush Goyal congratulated Yeddyurappa on being sworn in as Karnataka’s chief minister. He said the state, which had been deprived of growth for years, will be on the development track now.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi mocked BJP leaders for celebrating its “hollow victory”. The saffron party’s insistence that it will form a government in Karnataka is a “mockery of the Constitution”. While the BJP celebrates, India mourns the “defeat of democracy,” his tweet read.

Earlier, in an unprecedented post-midnight session, the Supreme Court of India heard a petition by Congress challenging the governor’s decision to invite BJP to form government but refused to interfere.

Mukul Rohatgi, BJP’s lawyer, said the governor was just doing his job. The President and governor are not answerable to any court and the court should not stop a constitutional functionary in the functioning of his official duties.

The matter should not be heard in the night. Heavens would not fall if someone is sworn in, Rohatgi said.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi, lawyer for Congress, said BJP has just 104 MLAs’ support and the governor has invited its leader to form the government. It is unconstitutional.

The petition should not have been filed. The Congress and JD(S) should have waited for the floor test to be conducted, said Attorney General KK Venugopal.

After hearing the arguments, the Supreme Court refused to stay the swearing-in of Yeddyurappa as chief minister.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Governor met a delegation of the Congress and JD(S) leaders, who also staked claim to form government, saying they have the majority. He did not allow the two parties to prove their strength by parading lawmakers at his office. The majority of a party or alliance has to be proved at the assembly, not at the Raj Bhavan.

The governor had two options: invite the party (BJP) which secured the maximum number of seats (104) or its rival parties (Congress and Janata Dal (S)) which formed a post-poll alliance and together have 115 seats to form a government. He followed the unwritten rule and invited the party which secured the maximum number of seats to form government. And he decided fast since any delay could have led to political uncertainty which is not good for a democracy.

BJP now faces the task of proving the majority in the assembly without encouraging new lawmakers from the rival camp to cross over and falling foul of the anti-defection law.

Before the counting of votes, Yeddyurappa had said he would take oath as chief minister on May 17. His statement drew sharp criticism from previous chief minister Siddaramaiah who said Yeddyurappa seemed to be “mentally disturbed.”  Yeddyurappa  kept his promise.