By inviting the BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa to form the new Karnataka government despite his inability to prove majority support among the elected legislators, Governor Vajubhai Vala has acted like an RSS pracharak rather than a custodian of the Indian constitution. The most sordid aspect of this whole drama of government making is that the BJP leader initially talked of only two days for proving his majority but he was given a full fifteen days since the top BJP leadership was not sure of organising the horse trading of the MLAs belonging to the Congress and the JD(S) within two days and they sought 15 days’ time to organise the affair. The Karnataka governor readily agreed to that like a party apparchik and allowed the sale of democracy in Karnataka for another two weeks.
The act is unpardonable as there are clear precedents in the last few years about what the Governor should do according to the Constitution to uphold the values of democratic functioning of the legislature. Out of the 222 seats to which the elections were held in Karnataka assembly, the BJP got 104 seats, the Congress 78 and the JD(S) got 38 seats. The JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy submitted to the governor the letter containing the signatures of 117 legislators including one independent as against the 104 of the BJP and still the Governor without caring to verify the figures given by Kumaraswamy, invited the BJP leader to form the government and BSY took oath on Thursday morning within 16 hours of the submission of the majority legislatures list by the JD(S) leader. This is the height of party loyalty by a governor trampling on the sacred principles of the Constitution and the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission.
Sarkaria Commission report specifically deals with the situation where no single party obtains absolute majority and provides the order of preference the Governor should follow in selecting a chief minister. The order of preference suggested is – an alliance of parties that was formed prior to elections, the largest single party staking a claim to form the government with the support of others including the independents, a post electoral coalition of parties, with all the partners of the coalition joining the government and the fourth a post electoral alliance of the parties, with some of the parties in the alliance forming a government and the remaining parties, including the independents supporting the government from outside.
In the specific case of Karnataka assembly following the results on May 15, the third option of allowing the Congress and JD(S) combination to form the government is the most viable option because the second option of the largest party staking claim cannot be considered as already the post electoral alliance of the Congress-JD(S) has submitted the list of majority legislators with signatures and they are ready to form a coalition government. So there is no question of instability in the government.
The constitutional position demands that the post poll coalition stuck by the Congress and the JD(S) along with another independent commands the support of majority in the Karnataka assembly and the Governor’s job is to ensure that Kumaraswamy proves his majority on the floor of the house as early as possible. Kumaraswamy was ready for that within 24 hours but the Governor gave BSY 15 days time to prove his majority.
The fact is that Vajubhai Vala should not have been the Governor by any means if the criteria of the Sarkaria Commission is followed. The Commission says that the governor should be eminent in some walk of life and from outside the state. He should be a detached figure without intense political links or should not have taken part in politics in recent times. Besides, he should not be a member of the ruling party. But Vala is an activist of RSS and he vacated his assembly seat for Narendra Modi to contest elections after Modi became the CM of Gujarat. Vala remained a minister, became the speaker of the Gujarat assembly in December 2012 and was made Karnataka governor in 2014. He is always in touch with the BJP high command. His latest action also proves that he is there in Raj Bhavan only to carry out the dictat from Modi-Shah duo.
In the next two weeks, the Karnataka legislators belonging to the Congress and the JD(S) will be under grabs, it is an open market and the top BJP leaders are in operation with huge amount in their kitty for offering to the vacillating legislators. The floodgates are open now, political sleaze and corruption will dominate the Karnataka politics for the next two weeks to the detriment of the values of Indian democracy.
Nitya Chakraborty is an independent journalist. The views are personal.