June 6, 2023

Showing surprising speed and activity on Karnataka three days after the HD Kumaraswamy-led coalition government fell in a trust vote, the ruling BJP gave BS Yeddyurappa the go-ahead early this morning to stake claim to power. The clincher, say sources, was a video call between Karnataka BJP leaders and rebel lawmakers whose resignations enabled the coalition’s collapse.

Mr Yeddyurappa took reporters by surprise when he headed to Governor Vajubhai Vala’s house this morning, declaring that he was staking claim and wanted his oath ceremony by evening. It seemed to be a sudden move at a time the BJP seemed to be in no hurry to shake things up in Karnataka.

Sources say the BJP’s central leadership, chary of forming a minority government that could fall, came on board after Karnataka leaders assured that rebel Congress and Janata Dal Secular lawmakers would back them on the floor of the assembly.

Mr Yeddyurappa is inclined to take the trust vote on Monday, two days before his July 31 deadline to prove his majority.

What convinced his bosses Amit Shah and JP Nadda to accept his plan to form government was an early morning video call between rebels stationed in Mumbai and top Karnataka leaders. “The assurance was communicated to the central leadership this morning. The nod came from Amit Shah early this morning. Only then did Yeddyurappa meet the governor,” a BJP leader told NDTV, dismissing speculation that the leadership was unconvinced.

At 76, Mr Yeddyurappa has been able to dodge his party’s 75-plus age ban. The three-time Chief Minister has never completed a term and hopes the fourth time’s a charm.

In May last year, his stint lasted 48 hours after the oath ceremony; as the Congress and Janata Dal Secular teamed up to stop the BJP from taking power, Mr Yeddyurappa was forced to quit moments before a trust vote.

For a year, the coalition accused Mr Yeddyurappa of working to “Operation Lotus”, the name given by critics to what they call the BJP’s strategy of seizing power by drawing away lawmakers with money or other inducements.

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