Did Yeddyurappa in Karnataka Pull a Vajpayee from 1996 LS Polls?

In 1996, after a historic speech, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s resigned before a floor test and his 13-day govt collapsed.

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Did BS Yeddyurappa pull a Vajpayee by resigning in the Assembly minutes before a scheduled confidence vote?

The 3-day-old B S Yeddyurappa government in Karnataka collapsed on Saturday, with the chief minister announcing his decision to resign without facing a trust vote – a move by the BJP that takes us back to 1996.

Even though the circumstances were not identical, here’s what former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee did two decades ago on national stage that is reminiscent of the Karnataka political drama that unfolded on Saturday, 19 May.


What Happened on 28 May, 1996?

In 1996 Lok Sabha elections, when the Congress, led by PV Narsimha Rao was in a complete disarray after ushering in economic reforms, Babri Masjid demolition and the alleged Hawala Scandal, the party could barely secure 140 seats. The BJP, emerging as a powerful opposition had bagged 161 seats with Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the helm.

It was a hung Assembly, the game was still on and the key to the government rested with the regional parties and the Left.

BJP, who had emerged as the single largest party staked claim to form the government. The then President Shankar Dayal Sharma invited Vajpayee and gave him two weeks to prove majority on the floor.

But, 13 days after taking oath as the Prime Minister, Vajpayee’s government dismantled on 28 May when he, in a landmark speech, resigned in the assembly before taking a floor test.


Vajpayee could not manage to woo the regional parties, thus falling short of the halfway (272) mark. Lack of requisite numbers did not mean the BJP had served the motherland any less, he had said. Instead of inviting a floor test, Vajpayee announced at the end of his speech that he was going to Rashtrapati Bhavan to tender his resignation to the President.


Who Formed the Govt in 1996?

The political deadlock continued after Congress decided not to take stake claim and instead chose to support the Janata Dal which had emerged as the third largest party with 46 seats. This led to the formation of the United Front with the support of other regional parties and the Left.

After former PM VP Singh refused to take over as the Prime Minister, the offer was made to ardent CPI(M) leader and West Bengal CM Jyoti Basu. However, the party rejected the offer and eventually the office went to H D Deve Gowda, whose son H D Kumaraswamy is now set to be the next chief minister of Karnataka with the Congress' support.

After two short-lived United Front governments between 1996-1998 – led by HD Deve Gowda and IK Gujral respectively, Vajpayee came back to power for 13 months in 1998 and for a full five-year term in 1999.


What Happened on 19 May 2018?

With defeat staring him in the face, Yeddyurappa announced his decision to quit on the floor of the Assembly after a brief emotional speech.

Though exuding confidence about winning the trust vote as the D-day loomed, Yeddyurappa failed to muster the support of 7 additional MLAs required to ensure the longevity of his government.

Yeddyurappa's three-day tenure as the chief minister of Karnataka also turned out to be one of the shortest in Indian history.

The 75-year-old BJP leader was sworn in as the chief minister of Karnataka on 17 May 2018. He resigned before facing a Supreme Court-mandated floor test today.

The BJP veteran's initiation to the league of chief ministers with tenures of few days, however, happened over a decade ago. In 2007, Yeddyurappa had to resign as the chief minister of Karnataka after merely eight days.

With the 2019 Lok Sabha elections drawing closer, the political battles in 1996 and in Karnataka two decades later, are a good reminder that an alliance of Congress and the regional parties can become a thorn for the ruling BJP.

(With inputs from PTI and Hindustan Times)

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