Atal replay, minus grace

Bangalore: B.S. Yeddyurappa on Saturday tried to do an Atal Bihari Vajpayee, resigning moments before he was to face a floor test that he would have lost for want of numbers.

But while Vajpayee’s 1996 resignation speech was marked by a passionate defence of his party and humorous digs at its opponents that drew applause even from the Opposition, Yeddyurappa let loose a tirade against the Congress-Janata Dal Secular alliance.

Few would have missed one coincidence: if H.D. Deve Gowda’s United Front succeeded Vajpayee’s 13-day government, Deve Gowda’s son H.D. Kumaraswamy is set to replace Yeddyurappa.

Yeddyurappa announced his resignation in the House minutes before 4pm, when the floor test was to start in accordance with Friday’s Supreme Court order, which had virtually shut the door on “horse-trading” by overruling the 15-day window the governor had previously granted.

On Saturday, the court disposed of a Congress-JDS plea to remove pro-tem Speaker K.G. Bopaiah, whose impartiality it had questioned, after learning the floor test would be telecast live.

In the House, the outgoing chief minister struggled to control his emotions as he promised to fight back and win all the 28 Lok Sabha seats from Karnataka next year and 150-plus seats whenever the next state elections were held.

He soon walked out of the House, almost grudgingly shaking the hands extended from the Opposition benches, while the national anthem was being played.

“Thanks to a Congress conspiracy, democracy has suffered a setback. I’m resigning…. We aren’t moving the (trust) motion,” he had earlier said in his 20-minute speech.

He had recalled how the previous chief minister, P.C. Siddaramaiah of the Congress, had been at loggerheads with the JDS. “They launched the opportunistic coalition after losing the election. But the governor called me as I headed the largest party.”

Gesturing towards the Opposition benches, Yeddyurappa said he empathised with those staying away from their families for days – a dig at the Congress-JDS quarantining their MLAs from possible “poaching” attempts.

“They were not even allowed to speak to their families,” Yeddyurappa lamented, causing mirth among the Congress members, who held their tongue.

Congress sources said the MLAs had been briefed not to utter a word against anything the BJP said as a precaution against any commotion that could have given Bopaiah a chance to adjourn the House

Tejkaran Harsh

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