Imphal/Shillong/Patna: Ripples from Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala’s decision to swear in BS Yeddyurappa as chief minister have reached the political shores of Manipur, Bihar, Meghalaya and Goa. The septuagenarian was invited to form the government solely because his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had bagged the largest number of seats. Not only was it a minority in the assembly, but the rival coalition could prove they had a comfortable majority.
Local Congress units and their allies in these four states want to know why their respective governors didn’t extend them the same courtesy.
Whether as a political gesture or genuinely staking a claim to form the government, state Congress units in these four BJP/NDA-ruled states have requested governors to consider the anomaly. Despite winning the largest number of seats in each of these states, they were denied a chance to form the government and the BJP was allowed to cobble together a post-poll coalition and win a majority.
‘Agitation in Manipur if BJP govt not dissolved’
Following the Supreme Court’s decision to allow Yeddyurappa to be sworn in, eight Congress MLAs in Manipur led by former chief minister and Congress legislative party leader Okram Ibobi Singh called upon the state’s acting Governor Jagdish Mukhi at 12 noon on 18 May staking a claim to form the government. Mukhi assumed charge as the acting governor of Manipur on 3 May and is currently the governor of Assam and Meghalaya as well.
Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary Meghachandra Keisham, who was one among the eight MLAs, said that the country cannot have separate rules for different states. He said despite emerging as the single largest party in Manipur after the last assembly polls, Governor Najma Heptulla, in disregard of all constitutional norms, invited the BJP to form the government without giving the Congress an opportunity to prove its majority on the floor of the house. “There is a political crisis in the country as the BJP violated all due constitutional norms while forming governments in Goa, Meghalaya and Manipur,” he said.
Claiming that the ruling of the apex court in the Karnataka election is a moral victory for the Congress, the Congress legislator from Wangkhem assembly constituency said his party is waiting till 4 pm on Saturday when the BJP faces a floor test in the Karnataka assembly. He warned that the Congress would launch an agitation if the BJP-led government in Manipur was not dissolved and his party given an opportunity to form the government.
Governor Najma Heptulla had invited the BJP, the second largest party in the Manipur Assembly with 21 seats, to form the government on 15 March last year. Despite Congress emerging as the single largest party with 28 out of the total 60 seats, the BJP is currently heading the government with the support of the National People's Party, Naga People's Front and the Lok Janshakti Party. The Raj Bhavan says it is looking into the claim.
Meghalaya Congress awaits bypoll result
In the 27 February polls in Meghalaya, the Congress had emerged as the single largest party with 21 seats while the National People’s Party (NPP) came second with 19 seats. But the NPP managed to cobble together a post-poll alliance, as the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) did immediately after the Karnataka results. The NPP partnered with the United Democratic Party (6), People’s Democratic Front (4), Hill State People’s Democratic Party (2) and the lone NCP legislator to stake a claim to form the government.
Former Congress chief minister Dr Mukul Sangma won from two seats — Ampati and Songsak — and as he surrendered the Ampati seat, a bypoll will take place there on 28 May. With the adjourned poll to the Williamnagar seat won by NPP, the two parties are now tied at 20 seats apiece. Congress legislator, Ampareen Lyngdoh, said that the party in Meghalaya will take a step forward once it becomes the single largest party after the counting in Ampati on 1 June. “India is not only what the BJP decides, India is about the true spirit of democracy as laid down in the Constitution of India,” says Lyngdoh.
RJD follows gesture, stakes claim with 80 MLAs
Upping the ante further, a delegation from the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Congress and Hindustani Awam Morcha on 18 May met Bihar governor Satya Pal Malik to demand the dismissal of the state’s NDA government and give the RJD an opportunity to form the government. Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, handed over a letter staking his claim to form government as the RJD with 80 MLAs was the single-largest party in the 243-member state legislature. Emerging from a half-an-hour long meeting with the governor, Yadav told reporters that the governor gave them a patient hearing and promised to consider their demand.
"We requested the Bihar governor to dismiss the state government and, like in Karnataka, invite RJD, the single largest party in Bihar to form government,” said Yadav, the youngest son of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad. Bihar Congress acting president Kaukab Quadri, who accompanied Yadav to Raj Bhavan said the RJD, which Congress is allied with, is the largest party in the Assembly and must be given the opportunity to form the government and 15 days’ time to prove its majority.
Recalling their parting of ways with chief minister Nitish Kumar and his Janata Dal-United last July, Yadav said the RJD had also staked a claim to form government then but Governor Kashi Nath Tripathi, “had rubbished our claim and allowed the unholy alliance of JD(U) and BJP to form government.” JD(U), RJD and the Congress had formed an alliance and routed the BJP in 2015 assembly polls. But after 20 months, Nitish Kumar walked out of the alliance on 26 July 2017 and returned to the BJP-led NDA to form government.
The JD(U) and BJP leaders dismissed the RJD’s demands. “The Governor takes decisions based on the situation at the time and by using his discretionary powers and conscience,” said JD(U) MLC and spokesperson Neeraj Kumar. Deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi added that precedent cannot be used for all fresh situations and the situation of one state cannot compared to that of another.
(Authors are freelance writers and members of 101reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters)
Updated Date: May 19, 2018 17:18:11 IST