NEW DELHI: India's Supreme Court Friday ordered Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party to hold a vote of confidence within a day in a key state where it has been allowed to form a government despite its lack of a majority.
Modi's nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) inflicted a major blow against the opposition Congress by emerging as the largest single party in the southern state of Karnataka following polls held last week.
But its 104 seats left it short of a majority in the 224-member state assembly. Congress, whose numbers were cut from 122 to 78 seats, formed a coalition with a regional party and staked claim to form a government with at least 115 members.
However, the state governor, a former BJP leader, controversially gave Modi's party the first chance to form a government, sparking a political storm in India.
The court ordered the "floor test", or vote of confidence, to be held by 4:00 pm (1130 GMT) on Saturday.
"The test will be as per the rules of the house. There will be no secret ballot," the Supreme Court justices said.
Lawyers for B.S. Yeddyurappa, the BJP's chief minister, had requested until Monday to be able to prove it has the numbers to form a government. They had also wanted a secret ballot.
As leaders from both parties traded accusations, Yeddyurappa took an oath of office on Thursday after a special late-night sitting of the Supreme Court rejected a Congress move to block the ceremony.
"We are going to get full majority," Yeddyurappa told reporters after the verdict.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi called the BJP's actions a "mockery of our constitution" while BJP leader Amit Shah decried the Congress protests as "a murder of democracy."
The judge bench said it would rule at a later date whether the governor's decision to invite the BJP to form a government was unconstitutional.
Karnataka, home to 60 million people and the wealthy global IT hub of Bangalore, was the last major state held by the Congress.
Losing the state would see Congress effectively giving up its claim to lead any political alliance against Modi's nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in a general election next year.