BJP calls Congress-JD(S) alliance ‘unholy,’ stages a walkout

The H.D. Kumaraswamy-led Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka sailed through the vote of confidence in the Assembly on Friday amid a walkout by the BJP members who described the coalition as “unholy and opportunistic.”

This brought the curtains down on one part of the political drama that has unfolded over the last two weeks. What lies ahead is the hard task of ironing out differences and working out the modalities for Cabinet formation. Congress leaders, who were to leave for Delhi to decide on Cabinet expansion, have now put off their trip to next week.

Speaker’s election

The day began with the unanimous election of K.R. Ramesh Kumar of the Congress as the Speaker, after the BJP’s nominee Suresh Kumar pulled out of the race.

Soon after, in their speeches after moving a motion on the vote of confidence, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and former Chief Minister and BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa traded charges, pulling each other down repeatedly, referring to their alliance in 2006-2007 that had ended on a sour note.

Mr. Yeddyurappa, who had to step down after failing to muster the requisite number (111) on May 19, targeted the JD(S) and called it the “father-and-son party” who had earlier let him down. He accused Mr. Kumaraswamy and his father and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda of piling demands on him for favours during the BJP-JD(S) government. He accused Mr. Gowda’s family of cornering 46 sites in Mysuru in the 1980s.

“Mr. Kumaraswamy is not trustworthy and he has gone back on his word in the past,” he said, asking the Congress to be wary of the alliance. Their association with the “father-and-son party” would take them to doom, he said, expressing “pity” for the Congress and its leaders. He also “sympathised” with former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and said the Congress had sidelined him after the elections.

Earlier, Mr. Kumaraswamy rubbished the BJP’s allegations that he had gone back on his earlier promise of waiving farm loans of over ₹53,000 crore.

He recalled that Mr. Yeddyurappa had himself, as Chief Minister, refused to waive farm loans, accusing him of double standards.

Later in the day, Mr. Kumaraswamy met officials of the Finance Department and others to discuss the feasibility of farm loan waiver. He also met senior Congress leaders including Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and former Minister D.K. Shivakumar.

Before walking out of the House, BJP president and leader of the opposition in the Assembly Yeddyurappa announced a statewide bandh on Monday in protest against Mr. Kumaraswamy not waiving farm loans.

Later BJP leaders clarified that the bandh will be statewide, barring Bengaluru, where election for the Rajarajeshwari Nagar constituency is being held on the same day.