| Dharam Singh after submitting his resignation in Bangalore on Saturday. (Vitla Images)
Bangalore/New Delhi, Jan. 28: The Karnataka governor today invited Janata Dal (Secular) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy to form the next government after denying Dharam Singh’s Congress-led ministry another shot at proving majority.
T.N. Chaturvedi said he had accepted Dharam’s resignation, sent through an envoy this afternoon, which also paved the way for Dal (S) ally BJP to taste power for the first time in a major southern state.
“I called him (Dharam) again this morning. He asked me for another date to move the confidence vote, but I thought it was fair to allow both parties to air their views when the new government moves its confidence vote within eight days of taking over. So I declined,’’ the governor told reporters on the Raj Bhavan’s lawns.
Kumaraswamy’s eight-day countdown to a floor test begins from the day he takes oath, which has been fixed for the “auspicious date” of February 3, effectively giving him two weeks to prepare. The date was finalised after Kumaraswamy met the governor this evening to formally stake his claim to rule the state.
To avoid a fiasco like yesterday’s, the governor has asked that the trust vote this time be listed as the sole item on the Assembly’s agenda for the day. “It (the session) will be focused and centred,’’ Chaturvedi said.
The state had headed for a constitutional crisis yesterday when Dharam repeatedly refused to move a confidence motion citing commotion in the Assembly, prompting the Speaker to adjourn the House indefinitely.
Dharam told reporters this evening he was ready to prove his majority on any given date but had resigned because the governor, citing technicalities, refused to give him a fresh one.
“I resigned in deference to the governor’s wishes,’’ he declared.
Chaturvedi denied pressuring Dharam to quit, saying he had left it to the Congressman’s conscience. “He has not given any reasons for his resignation,” the governor said.
The new coalition is expected to follow the “Jammu and Kashmir formula”. This means Kumaraswamy would be chief minister and the BJP’s B.S. Yediyurappa his deputy for the first 20 months before a switch of roles for the rest of the ministry’s possible 40-month term.
The BJP had followed this model with Mayavati in Uttar Pradesh and burnt its fingers. The Dal (S) would be trying this for the first time after having let the Congress run the entire show during Dharam’s tenure.
“The BJP has been far too generous. We are the largest single party with 79 MLAs while our allies have only 49. But we are satisfied with forming our first government in the south,” a BJP source said.
The new government will have 18 BJP ministers and 16 from the Dal (S).
A senior BJP leader said the party would get the ministries of finance, revenue, PWD, public distribution and rural development while its partner would keep the crucial departments of home and agriculture.
BJP president Rajnath Singh said the alliance would work on the basis of a common minimum programme.
The stage had been set for the change of guard yesterday after the Speaker crowned rebel leader Kumaraswamy as the Dal (S) House leader. This had provoked the Congress members to rush to the well and give Dharam, lacking the numbers, an excuse to wriggle out of holding a trust vote.
Dharam today denied that Congress members alone had created a din, but the Speaker’s report to the governor blamed the outgoing chief minister for the chaos. The report alleged Dharam had remained a “mute spectator’’ while his party colleagues abused the Speaker in improper language.
“I asked the CM four times to move the motion of confidence. The chair was left with no option but to adjourn the House sine die (till further notice),’’ the report said.
The governor sought to clear the air on a minor controversy that broke early yesterday with several MLAs objecting to him sending two observers to the House.
“As I cannot understand Kannada, I asked my secretary to go'. I wanted to get a feel of the situation,” Chaturvedi explained.