Full timeline of Karnataka crisis: Congress-JD(S) govt falls as MLAs vote against HD Kumaraswamy in delayed trust vote, BJP set to take charge

FP Staff
After hearing the arguments in the rebel Karnataka MLAs' case, the Supreme Court reserved its order and is set to pronounce it at 10.30 am on Wednesday.

The Karnataka political crisis €" triggered by the resignation of 16 Congress and JD(S) MLAs on 6 July €" came to a conclusion with the fall of the HD Kumaraswamy-led coalition government on Tuesday. The government lost the much-anticipated trust vote after 105 MLAs voted against it.

The trust vote was delayed by at least three days as the Congress dominated the floor of the House with accusations of 'Operation Lotus' against the BJP. However, the saffron party, led by BS Yeddyurappa expressed confidence that the coalition would fail to pass the confidence motion.

BJP president Amit Shah held consultations with party leaders amid indications that Yeddyurappa may be the party's chief ministerial choice in the state. Asked about its choice for the top post in the state, a party leader said Yeddyurappa, who is seen as the spearhead behind the drive to topple the Congress-JD(S) government, is an "obvious" contender but added that the top brass, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah, will take a call on the matter.

Here is a broad timeline of the events since the crisis began:

6 July: 16 Congress-JD(S) MLAs resign

The 13-month-old Karnataka government slumped into a crisis after Congress and JD(S) MLAs announced their resignations on 6 July.  The Congress MLAs to have resigned from the Vidhan Soudha included veteran party leader Ramalinga Reddy. He told reporters, "I have decided to resign from the Congress, with which I have been associated for over four decades, as there is no respect or value for senior leaders in the party."

Congress leader and chief troubleshooter DK Shivakumar attempted to negotiate with the dissenting MLAs, but to no avail. Ten of the MLAs, except Reddy and Munirathna, travelled to Mumbai, even as the coalition partners accused the BJP of "horse-trading" and poaching MLAs. Reportedly, BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa's personal assistant Santosh was spotted with the MLAs.

Conflicting accounts emerged when Siddaramaiah said that only one MLA had submitted a resignation, while the Karnataka Speaker said that 11 MLAs had resigned. Meanwhile, JD(S) leader H Vishwanath was quoted by ANI as saying that 14 MLAs had met with the government and resigned.

"We wrote to speaker to accept our resignation. Coalition government did not meet the expectations of the people of Karnataka. We have submitted resignation to the Karnataka Assembly Speaker. He assured us he will take a decision by Tuesday. This government did not take everyone into confidence in its functioning. That's why we've resigned voluntarily today," he said.

7 July: BJP distances itself from controversy, Congress-JD(S) leaders regroup amid crisis

Accusations and counter-accusations of horse-trading were traded on 7 July, a day after the state government descended into crisis. Siddaramaiah claimed that the BJP had orchestrated 'Operation Kamala' against the coalition partners, while Yeddyurappa said that the BJP was "in no way related to the crisis". He also said that the party would "wait and see" how the situation played out.

Kumaraswamy, who was away on a trip to the US, returned to Bengaluru as JD(S) patriarch and Shivakumar held a meeting to discuss a resolution. Congress leader Mahendra Singhi met disgruntled Congress MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi at the Sofitel Hotel in Mumbai to find a resolution and said that the situation in Karnataka was a "family matter".

"It is our duty to talk to those who are upset. I had a discussion regarding the issue. I only met Ramesh Jharkiholi and not any other MLAs. It's an internal family matter. We will solve them among ourselves. It is like the season of rain which comes and go. Everything will be fine; there is nothing to worry about. I only met Jharkiholi. I won't say anything about what I don't know," he said when asked by reporters about his meeting inside the hotel.

Factions of the Congress also held protests against the dissenting MLAs in Bengaluru and Mumbai.

8 July: Independent MLAs withdraw support, all Congress-JD(S) ministers resign for cabinet reshuffle

BJP on 8 July demanded that Kumaraswamy step down "immediately" as his government had slipped into a "minority" following the resignations of the Congress-JD(S) MLAs, as well as two Independent MLAs. Independent MLAs H Nagesh and R Shankar were made ministers on 14 June to pacify any sort of rebellion.

Nagesh announced his support for the BJP, after which both MLAs joined the dissenting MLAs in Mumbai.

All Congress and JD(S) ministers tendered their resignation letters to their party leaders to give Kumaraswamy "a free hand" to reshuffle the cabinet. The move was in a bid to accommodate rebels to save the government. AICC general secretary KC Venugopal and Siddaramaiah appeal to rebel MLAs to come back and promise to address their problems.

Congress leader KH Muniyappa said that the decision has been taken by both the parties to make sure that the government is run smoothly. "Both parties have taken this decision (for all ministers to resign) to make sure that is government run smoothly. Earlier too, I have suggested the same to our party leaders...to go with the same strategy, to accommodate portfolios to second-line leaders so that everybody can be happy in the government," he said.

9 July: Speaker says resignations are not in order, rebel MLAs write to Mumbai Police seeking protection

Kumar, Karnataka Speaker, who reacted to the crisis for the first time since the resignations, said that of 13 resignations, only five were "in order". He asked the five MLAs to meet him in two batches.

Kumar said that he would go by the rules while taking a call on the resignation of MLAs. "I have certain rules. I will go by that. Then the decision will be taken. I have to be responsible. Certain things in law are implied. Office of the Speaker should behave responsibly. No time frame is mentioned there," he said when reporters asked him if the resignation of MLAs has been accepted.

He further added, "The clause says if the Speaker is convinced that the resignations are voluntary and genuine he can accept. Otherwise, I don't know. I am not a well-read man. I have to see." Earlier, the Speaker said that no MLA has sought any appointment with him and if someone wants to meet him, he is available in the office.

"Till now, no MLA has sought an appointment with me. If anyone wants to meet me, I will be available in my office," he told reporters. "I am no way related to the current political developments in the state. I am acting as per the Constitution," he said.

Ten rebel MLAs also wrote to the Mumbai Police commissioner seeking protection from Shivakumar and Kumaraswamy ahead of their visit on 10 July.

10 July: DK Shivakumar reaches Mumbai but stopped from meeting MLAs

After the dissenting MLAs wrote to the Mumbai Police seeking protection from Shivakumar, who arrived in Mumbai on 10 July, Mumbai Police issued a statement saying that Shivakumar "will not be allowed" inside the hotel premises, even as the minister expressed confidence about being able to meet the dissenting MLAs.

Shivakumar said, "Let Mumbai Police or any other force be deployed. Let them do their duty. We've come to meet our friends. We were born together in politics, we will die together in politics. They are our party men. We have come to meet them."

He added, "I've booked a room here. My friends are staying here. There has been a small problem, we've to hold negotiations. We can't go for a divorce immediately. There is no question of threatening, we love and respect each other." Shivakumar was later escorted away from the hotel but had camped outside the hotel for 7 hours.

Two other Congress MLAs, MTB Nagaraj and K Sudhakar, also resigned as MLAs. The total number of resignations reached 16.

The MLAs also moved the Supreme Court claiming that Kumar was "deliberately" delaying accepting their resignations. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi took note of the submission of senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the rebel MLAs, and assured him that it will see whether their petition can be listed for an urgent hearing on 11 July.

11 July: SC hears pleas of rebel MLAs, directs them to meet Speaker

The Supreme Court, hearing the rebel MLAs' pleas, directed them to appear before Kumar the same day and said that they should be provided with police protection when they land in Bengaluru from Mumbai. "The court has accepted the request of the 10 MLAs, who had resigned, to appear before the Speaker at 6 pm today, which means that they will fly from Mumbai to Bengaluru," senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared on behalf of the dissident legislators before a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, told reporters.

The dissenting MLAs then reached the Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru in a chartered flight from Mumbai under police protection at 6 pm and met Kumar in his chamber to give their fresh resignations.

Talking to the media after the MLAs met him, Kumar dismissed the charge that he was delaying a decision on these resignations to help the government, which has allegedly lost its majority.

"I need to examine these resignations (of rebel MLAs) all night and ascertain if they are genuine. The Supreme Court has asked me to take a decision. I have video-graphed everything and I will send it to the Supreme Court," said Kumar.

12 July: HD Kumaraswamy announces seeking trust vote, SC adjourns case till 16 July

Kumaraswamy announced his intention to seek a trust vote on the floor of the House on 12 July, as the Supreme Court adjourned the case till Tuesday. The apex court also ordered maintaining a status quo with regard to the resignations until the next hearing.

Demanding a floor test, Kumaraswamy said, "After all these developments, I am seeking your permission and time to prove the majority in this session," to Kumar in the Assembly while the House was paying condolences to former members who died during the inter-session period.

Reacting to the chief minister's statement, former home minister R Ashok said Kumaraswamy should fix a time like Monday or Tuesday to face the floor test. He cannot make a vague demand, he said.

13 July: MTB Nagaraj hints at reconsidering resignation

Rebel Congress MLA MTB Nagaraj on Saturday hinted at reconsidering his resignation after holding a meeting with party leader DK Shivakumar.

"Situation was such that we submitted our resignations, but now DK Shivakumar and others came and requested us to withdraw resignations, I will speak to K Sudhakar Rao and then see what is to be done, after all, I have spent decades in Congress," Congress MLA and state minister MTB Nagaraj said after a meeting at his residence.

It may be noted that Hoskote MLA Nagaraj and Chikballapur Congress MLA Dr K Sudhakar have resigned from the Assembly on 10 July. While Nagaraj made no clear announcement of taking back resignation, the same was affirmed by Shivakumar who announced the same while speaking to media outside Nagaraj's residence.

Five more MLAs approached the Supreme Court, saying they had been "threatened" to support the Kumaraswamy government in the anticipated floor test.

14 July: Nagaraju conducts U-turn, flies back to Mumbai

The Karnataka political crisis continued on Sunday as talks with rebel Congress MLA MTB Nagaraj broke down after he flew to Mumbai on Sunday. Karnataka BJP president BS Yeddyurappa's personal assistant Santosh and BJP MLA R Ashok were seen boarding the same flight as Nagaraj.

The Hoskote MLA had maintained that he intended to take a final decision on the withdrawal of his resignation after talks with Chikkaballapura MLA K Sudhakar, as both had together submitted resignation to the Speaker on 10 July.

According to reports, Nagaraj was likely to join Sudhakar in Mumbai on Sunday. Sudhar is believed to be accompanying other MLAs who have quit and are being accommodated in a hotel in Mumbai.

Nagaraj, who was housing minister in the Kumaraswamy government before he resigned, however, maintained that he was still in the Congress party.

"Sudhakar has switched off his phone, and is not available for the last two days. After pacifying and convincing Sudhakar, I will try to bring him back. Because we both had resigned together, so we want to be united. I have informed this to Congress leaders," Nagaraj told reporters before leaving his residence in Bengaluru.

15 July: Speaker says decision on trust vote only after SC's decision on resignations

The Speaker also held meetings with Congress and JD(S) MLAs on Monday. Reportedly, Kumaraswamy and Leader of Opposition BS Yeddyurappa were present at the meeting. The saffron party moved a no-confidence motion before the Speaker, while expressing confidence that all the 105 MLAs of the party "were together".

"We stand by our demand of floor test. The behaviour of Assembly Speaker and the chief minister is highly uncalled for and unacceptable. When the MLAs have personally handed Speaker their resignations, what inquiry does he want," asked Parliamentary Affairs minister Pralhad Joshi.

The dissenting MLAs also wrote a second letter to the Mumbai Police on Monday, claiming that they perceived a "serious" threat from a few Congress leaders.

The MLAs, who are staying in Mumbai's Renaissance Hotel, wrote, "We have absolutely no intention in meeting Mallikarjun Kharge or Ghulam Nabi Azad or any Congress dignitaries or functionaries from Maharashtra or Karnataka Congress team leaders or any other political leader. We anticipate serious threat from them and so we, hereby, request to kindly make necessary arrangements to stop these people from meeting us in case the situation arises."

16 July: SC reserves order on rebel MLAs' case for 10.30 am of 17 July

The Supreme Court reserved order on the rebel MLAs' resignation case for Wednesday at 10.30 am. During the hearing, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for Kumaraswamy, told a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that the Speaker cannot be compelled to decide this issue in a time-bound manner. "When resignation process is not in order, court cannot direct Speaker to decide by 6 pm," Dhavan told the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose.

Senior advocate AM Singhvi, appearing for the Speaker, told the bench that no direction was issued to the Karnataka Speaker by the court in the midnight hearing when floor test was ordered and BS Yeddyurappa was invited to form government in 2018. He told the bench that the Speaker was yet to decide on the resignations and disqualification of rebel MLAs and the court had ample power to punish.

Singhvi said the Speaker would decide on both disqualifications and resignation of the rebel MLAs by Wednesday but the court should modify its earlier order asking him to maintain status quo.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for the rebel MLAs, argued that the Speaker cannot keep the resignation of these MLAs pending and by doing so he is acting in a partisan manner.

Countering his submissions, Singhvi said, "How can the Speaker be directed to decide in a particular manner? Such orders are not passed even to a trial court."

The bench asked Rohatgi if there was any constitutional obligation on the Speaker to decide on the MLAs' disqualification which was initiated after the resignation. Rohatgi said the rules say to 'decide now' on resignation. He said, "How can the Speaker keep it pending?"

17 July: SC rules rebel MLAs can't be compelled to participate in trust vote

The Supreme Court on 17 July held that the 15 rebel Karnataka Congress-JD(S) MLAs could not be compelled to participate in the trust vote that was scheduled to be held in Karnataka Assembly on 18 July.

The bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and comprising of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, said "Until further orders, the 15 members of the Assembly ought not to be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the ongoing session of the House and an option should be given to them that they can take part in the said proceedings or to opt to remain out of the same."

However, the court also observed that the Karnataka Speaker couldn't be forced to take a decision on the resignations of the rebel MLAs within a time frame, as was the demand of the petitioners.

"In these circumstances, the competing claims have to be balanced by an appropriate interim order, which according to us, should be to permit the Speaker of the House to decide on the request for resignations by the 15 members of the House within such time frame as the Speaker may consider appropriate," the bench said.

The Speaker welcomed the apex court's order. The plea was filed by Pratap Gouda Patil, Ramesh Jarkhiholi, Byrati Basavaraj, BC Patil, ST Somashekar, Arbail Sivaram Hebbar and Mahesh Kumathalli from Congress and K Gopalaiah, HD Vishwanath and Narayan Gowda from JD(S).

18 July: Karnataka Assembly convenes for first day of trust vote debate, Ramalinga Reddy agrees to withdraw resignation

The Karnataka Assembly convened for the first day of the debate on the trust vote on Congress-JD(S) coalition government, which was moved by Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy himself. Ahead of the scheduled Assembly session on 18 July, senior Congress MLA Ramalinga Reddy, who was among the dissident legislators, withdrew his resignation and said that he will remain in the party and vote in favour of Karnataka coalition government in the state Assembly.

Reddy said, "My reasons (for resigning) were purely internal and not on high command and not on Congress, not on the chief minister."

Kumaraswamy addressed the House on 18 July, saying that he was confident in proving the coalition's majority in the Assembly. Making the opening statement in Vidhana Soudha ahead of the trust vote, Kumaraswamy said, "I haven't come just because there is a question on whether I can run a coalition government or not. Events have shown that even the role of the Speaker has been put under jeopardy by some legislators."

Slamming the BJP of engineering the chaos in Karnataka, the chief minister also claimed that the dissenting legislators had moved the apex court with the BJP's assistance. "A situation has been created so that people lose trust in us. Without any discussion they have wanted a trust vote", Kumaraswamy said. The chief minister emphasised, "I will prove my majority in the house."

"I have self-respect and so do my ministers. I have to make some clarifications. Who is responsible for destabilising this government?" he asked.

However, the House was adjourned without the trust vote on 18 July.

19 July: Karnataka governor sets two deadlines for HD Kumaraswamy govt to prove majority

Shortly after the Karnataka Assembly was adjourned on Thursday without a trial of strength, Governor Vajubhai Vala wrote a letter to Kumaraswamy setting a deadline for the coalition government to prove its majority on the floor of the House by 1.30 pm on Friday. However, amid uproar from the ruling MLAs over the governor's direction, the House was adjourned without the conclusion of the trust vote.

On Thursday, the governor had conveyed to the Speaker that the government should enjoy the confidence of the House at all times and that the business of confidence vote be completed the same day. The Congress also considered moving the Supreme Court against the governor's "interference" in the Assembly's matters.

KPCC chief Dinesh Gundu Rao and Kumaraswamy also filed petitions in the Supreme Court seeking clarification on the apex court's 17 July order, saying that it "curtailed" the leaders' right to issue a whip to their MPs. The plea was not taken up by the court.

The trust vote was scheduled for Monday after the House adjourned for a second day without a conclusion to the political crisis. The BJP accused the government of "intentionally" delaying the confidence motion while expressing confidence that the next working day would be the "last day" in office for the Congress-JD(S) coalition.

20 July: BS Yeddyurappa denies having given money to rebel MLAs

Karnataka BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa on 20 July denied the allegations of the party offering Rs five crore to the rebel MLAs and said the coalition partners were trying to delay the trust vote by "playing games".

"The Congress and the JD(S) are playing games. How many days will this go on to? The Rs five crore allegations are all lies. They are trying to divert the matter," said Yeddyurappa at a press conference.

Yeddyurappa also spoke about MLA Srimanth Patil, who was admitted in Mumbai's St George's Hospital after he complained of chest pain and denied Karnataka Congress' claims that the BJP had "abducted" its MLA ahead of the trust vote of Kumaraswamy-led government. "Srimanth Patil has informed the doctor himself that he was not abducted and gone on his own free will. He has even informed the Speaker," he said.

21 July: Independent MLAs move SC seeking deadline for floor test as BJP, Congress regroup

Two Independent MLAs who withdrew their support from the government moved the Supreme Court seeking an order for a deadline on the floor test scheduled to be conducted on 22 July. In their petition, the MLAs, R Nagesh and H Shankar, sought a direction from the apex court to conclude the upcoming trust vote by 5 pm.

Ruling coalition leaders like Shivakumar made a last-ditch attempt at pacifying the MLAs and bringing them into the fold by holding talks with them on 21 July. The state water resources minister also claimed that the JD(S) was "prepared" for a Congress chief minister, a claim which was refuted by Rao.

However, the rebel MLAs issued a video message reiterating that they would not withdraw their resignations because the coalition government was not working in the interests of the people.

BSP chief Mayawati also directed the party's lone MLA in the Karnataka Assembly to attend the trust vote session and support the coalition government.

22 July and 23 July: Congress-JD(S) government falls as MLAs vote against HD Kumaraswamy in delayed trust vote

The much-anticipated trust vote was delayed as the debate, largely dominated by the coalition partners Congress and JD(S), dragged on from 18 to 23 July. On 22 July, Speaker Ramesh Kumar appealed to the House to maintain the sanctity of the Assembly and conclude the proceedings of the confidence motion the same day, but the House was adjourned amid ruckus created by the ruling MLAs.

While Kumaraswamy appealed to the rebel MLAs to reconsider their resignations, Shivakumar accused the BJP of conducting 'Operation Lotus' in the state and said the saffron party should accept that it wants "the chair". The Speaker also summoned the rebel MLAs for a meeting on Tuesday, however, a few hours before the deadline, the MLAs who were lodged in a Mumbai hotel asked for the duration of four weeks before meeting with the Speaker.

The Supreme Court also adjourned hearing the Independent MLAs' plea to Wednesday, if the trust vote didn't take place on Tuesday.

The trust vote was eventually conducted in the evening on Tuesday, after a day of arguments by Congress leaders Shivakumar, Siddaramaiah, and Krishna Byre Gowda.

The Congress-JD(S) government fell as 105 MLAs voted against Kumaraswamy while only 99 MLAs voted in support of the government. Immediately after the vote, Kumaraswamy sought an appointment with governor and went to Raj Bhavan to submit his resignation.

In the 224-member House, only 204 were present and voted in the division pressed by Leader of the Opposition Yeddyurappa after the voice vote. Yeddyurappa and other BJP members showed victory signs in the House while the ruling coalition members quietly walked out.

With inputs from agencies

Also See: MTB Nagaraj's flip-flop in support for Karnataka coalition keeps Congress on edge; Hoskote MLA joins ranks of political opportunists

BJP cancels legislative party meeting in Bengaluru, says 'in no hurry' to form govt in Karnataka

Karnataka Assembly to reconvene on 18 July for vote of confidence; confident that we will win trust motion, says Siddaramaiah

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