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How BJP turned the arithmetic in its favour
Vicky Nanjappa
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Coverage: Battleground Karnataka
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May 27, 2008 09:17 IST

The BJP emerged as the single largest party in Karnataka with 110 seats, but the run up before meeting Governor Rameshar Thakur on Monday night with the required numbers was not an easy one. The day began at B S Yeddyurappa's residence where a legislature party meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Party was held. The meeting was convened to formally elect Yeddyurappa as the leader of the party in the Karnataka assembly.

BJP stakes claim to form government in K'taka

At the meeting, party leaders welcomed on board first time legislators. The music, decoration and the smiles were back in the BJP camp, which looked gloomy in November last year when they were unceremoniously dumped by their coalition partner, the Janata Dal-Secular, a week after B S Yeddyurappa was sworn in as chief minister.

The BJP had then sworn to come back and the celebrations on Monday indeed proved that they had returned with a bang.

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When all was going well, a few leaders, including Ananth Kumar and state BJP unit President D Sadananda Gowda, left the meeting suddenly. The media chase began and speculation was rife that the two had gone to woo some independent legislators into joining the government.

While everyone was trying to figure out what was going on, Yeddyurappa boarded a Toyota Innova at around 1400 hours to an undisclosed location.

Sources in the BJP gave various versions regarding the place of the meeting. Finally, the truth was out and Yeddyurappa along with the Reddy brothers from Bellary, who have played a major role in wooing the independents, were holding talks at a resort regarding the next course of action.

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Yeddyurappa returned at around 1600 hours with three independent legislators. The three legislators were brought on to the dais and the customary hugs and garlands were exchanged.

Following this, the leaders retired to a room where further discussions were held. By 1730 hours, they had managed to coax just two independents. The third candidate seemed not to agree to certain terms and conditions and hence the process got delayed.

Sources in the BJP said the independents demanded that they be given portfolios such as water resources and even the Home Ministry.

By around 1900 hours, they managed to convince even the third legislator. Then BJP decided it would meet Governor Rameshwar Thakur by 2000 hours and it was 'Yedi, steady, go' at that time. However, Yeddyurappa had different plans.

He recalled how A B Vajpayee had lost his government to a single independent lawmaker and thought it would be better to play safe and try and woo two other legislators. Talks resumed and the BJP managed to rope in another legislator by 2000 hours.

Talks with the fifth legislator were on at that time, but the BJP managed to rope him in only at the last minute. Around 2045 hours, the BJP had got its letter of support from the fifth legislator following which they proudly walked into Raj Bhavan and met the Governor, who by now is quite familiar with the party and its leaders as they had literally camped in his house when the coalition drama unfolded in October-November 2007.

Even when the BJP was basking in glory, the Congress and the JD-S rubbished rumours of them trying and forming the government.

Speculation was rife throughout the day that the two parties will rope in six independent candidates and form the government together. However, Prithviraj Chauvan, the man in-charge of the Congress in Karnataka put an end to rumours when he said there was no question of them forming a government with the JD-S.

The JD-S, meanwhile, spoke in an entirely different tone. H D Kumaraswamy, former chief minister who took responsibility on Sunday for the party's defeat, said the BJP may have won, but they should restrain themselves from unethical practices.

He claimed that the BJP was now trying to break the JD-S to increase their strength on the floor of the House.

Thus ended an eventful day in Karnataka, which is all set to have a government after having been under President's rule for the past six months and after witnessing one of the worst-ever political crisis in the history of Indian politics.

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