Karnataka poll results: BS Yeddyurappa is chief minister, but history has lessons for leaders without numbers

Aashray Hariharan
If Yeddyurappa doesn't manage to retain power beyond the window offered, it could be the second time that the Lingayat strongman is forced to step down after an all-too-brief stint as chief minister.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on 17 May, 2018. It has been republished in the light of BS Yeddyurappa resigning as chief minister of Karnataka two days after taking over the post.

BS Yeddyurappa has taken oath as the 23rd Chief Minister of Karnataka, after the Supreme Court said it will not intervene in the decision of the governor to invite the BJP to form government.

In a midnight meeting on Wednesday night, the apex court decided that Yeddyurappa's swearing-in ceremony will go ahead as planned, but it will hear the case again on Friday. A bench of Justices AK Sikri, SA Bobde and Ashok Bhushan also asked that the letter given by Yeddyurappa and senior BJP leaders to the governor, in which it was stated that the party has the requisite number of MLAs to form government, be produced before the court.

The court also refused to modify Governor Vajubhai Vala's 15-day window to the BJP to prove its majority. If Yeddyurappa doesn't manage to retain power beyond the window offered, it could be the second time that the Lingayat strongman is forced to step down after an all-too-brief stint as chief minister. Back in November 2007, Yeddyurappa enjoyed a seven-day tenure as chief minister.

But even that, incidentally, is not the shortest chief ministerial tenure in Independent India. Here's a list of the shortest tenure in office:

Jagdambika Pal (Two days): On 21 February, 1998, Jagdambika Pal took oath of office as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh after the Kalyan Singh government was dismissed by then governor Romesh Bhandari. As reported by Rediff on the day, Pal was given until 24 February to prove his majority in the state Assembly.

The very next day, however, the Allahabad High Court stayed the decision of the governor, and the Supreme Court decided that the Assembly be summoned for the purposes of holding a vote in order to determine if Pal or his predecessor Kalyan Singh enjoyed the majority. As mentioned in an article on DNA, Kalyan Singh and Jagdambika Pal were seated on either side of the Speaker in the Vidhan Sabha, while the legislators voted for their choice of chief minister. Kalyan Singh won by an easy majority, and on 23 February, 1998, the High Court reinstated the Kalyan government.

Jagdambika Pal's chief minister tenure lasted less than 48 hours, a record that stands till today, over 20 years later.

Satish Prasad Singh (One week): Satish Prasad Singh had many firsts to his name. As reported by The Telegraph, he became the youngest chief minister of an Indian state, when he took oath of office as Bihar chief minister on 27 January, 1968. He was also the first Bihar chief minister to hail from a backward caste. But the most startling was the tenure. He lasted just one week in charge.

Explaining the details of Singh's tenure, the report added, a 155-member team, led by the Congress party, revolted against the then chief minister Mahamaya Prasad Sinha in January 1968. Sinha failed to survive the revolt, and the group selected Sanjukta Socialist Party (SSP) leader BP Mandal as the Sinha's successor. Mandal, though a unanimous choice, was an MP. His name had to be recommended as an MLC in order for him to be appointed chief minister. In order to facilitate the transition, the Congress and SSP chose Satish Prasad Singh as an interim chief minister.

Singh then recommened Mandal's name as an MLC on 2 February and subsequently proposed him as his successor in the legislature party. Governor N Kanungoi invited Mandal to form the new government on 3 February, and Mandal took oath as chief minister on 5 February, 1968. Satish Prasad Singh's tenure had come to an end.

Janaki Ramachandran (22 days): When the then Tamil Nadu chief minister MG Ramachandran died on 24 December, 1987, he left behind no clear heir to his legacy at the AIADMK party. While his leading lady in 28 Tamil films, J Jayalalithaa laid one claim to his legacy, his wife Janaki Ramachandran had another. As reported by Huffington Post, 97 AIADMK MLAs signed a memorandum supporting Janaki's candidature and submitted it to governor SL Khurana.

Following this, Janaki was sworn in as chief minister on 7 January, 1988, and was asked to prove her majority on the floor by 28 January.

However, on the day of the trust vote, pandemonium broke out in the state Assembly, and MLAs from the two sides openly indulged in physical fisticuffs. For the first time in the history of the Tamil Nadu Assembly, the police entered the Legislative House and lathicharged MLAs.

Two days later, as reported by News Minute, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi dismissed the government and invoked President's Rule. One year later, in January 1989, the next round of elections were held in Tamil Nadu, and it was the DMK which returned to power under M Karunanidhi. Janaki Ramachandran would never be chief minister again.

BS Yeddyurappa (Seven days): If Yeddyurappa fails to win the trust vote in 15 days' time and has has another short-lived stint as chief minister, it would be his second. Back in November 2007, after seat-sharing talks between alliance partners JD(S) and BJP fell through, and then chief minister HD Kumaraswamy had to step down. The state was under President's Rule for two days, but ultimately Kumaraswamy agreed to support Yeddyurappa and the latter was sworn in.

As reported by Rediff, however, it was an uncomfortable alliance. The BJP refused to accept JD(S)' demands to allocate it better portfolios, the JD(S) refused to vote for the BJP. Yeddyurappa announced his decision to quit and handed in his resignation, following which the state went through six months of President's Rule.

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Also See: Who will be next Chief Minister of Karnataka? Lingayat strongman BS Yeddyurappa likely to become CM for third time

Karnataka polls: SC ruling to rush through floor test makes it tough for Yeddyurappa, but why is BJP so frantic?

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