Yeddyurappa takes oath as CM, seeks 'conscience vote'

Yeddyurappa takes oath as CM, seeks 'conscience vote'

State BJP president B S Yeddyurappa was sworn in as chief minister on Thursday morning after the Supreme Court rejected the plea by the Congress and the JD(S) to stay the process. Soon after taking the oath, Yeddyurappa sought a “vote of conscience” to prove his majority even as the Congress and JD(S) kept their legislators under tight vigil to prevent any defection.  

On a day full of political action, Congress and JD(S) legislators staged a dharna in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue at Vidhana Soudha, while Yeddyurappa chaired his first Cabinet meeting. Amid the looming threat of the BJP poaching their MLAs, both Congress and JD(S) were so guarded that after the dharna, Congress MLAs were herded back to a resort, while JD(S) MLAs were taken back to a star hotel in the city.

Yeddyurappa sought the “conscience vote” citing former prime minister Indira Gandhi, who sought the conscience vote when she lacked a majority during a presidential election in the 1960s. Sources in the BJP indicated that proving a majority was turning out to be an uphill task. The party has 104 MLAs against 111 required to win the floor test.

“There are many in the Congress and the JD(S) who believe that the people’s mandate is for the BJP to form the government. I request them to stay true to their conscience and vote accordingly,” Yeddyurappa told reporters, adding that legislators were “inhumanely locked up, without their mobile phones”.

BJP managers said efforts were on to woo Congress and JD(S) legislators, including those belonging to the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community that Yeddyurappa belongs to. The party is also trying to ensure 8-10 MLAs abstain from voting during the floor test. One more Congress MLA Pratapgouda Patil (Maski) is said to have gone incommunicado like Anand Singh.

“Many Congress and JD(S) MLAs won fighting each other. Most of them are not in a position to face people if they join together. That’s what they communicated to us. We’re in touch with all of them. We’re confident of getting the support of a minimum of 120 MLAs,” BJP leader Shobha Karandlaje said. Yeddyurappa also asked party legislators to be ready for a floor test.