As the BJP and Congress-JD(S) continue to battle to form the Karnataka government, media reports say that the latter is likely to move the Supreme Court if Governor Vajubhai Vala does not invite them to stake their claim. The Congress-JD(S) charge is likely to be spearheaded by senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
The BJP, which has accused the Congress of trying to defy the mandate of the people of Karnataka, however, seems to have forgotten that it set the precedent for this in Goa and Manipur.
Indeed, on 13 March, 2017, Union minister Arun Jaitley took to social media and argued that in a hung Assembly, if a majority of elected MLAs formed a coalition, the governor would be constitutionally right to invite the leader of the majority coalition to form the government and prove their majority within a short period.
Jaitley went even further in a lengthy Facebook post just four days later, explaining why a combination with majority support should win out over the single largest party in the event of a hung Assembly.
Jaitley wrote, "The Congress Party complains a bit too much. It accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of ‘stealing’ the mandate in Goa." Jaitley argued that the BJP managed to form an alliance and presented to the governor 21 out of 40 MLAs, who appeared in person and submitted a letter of support. The Congress did not even submit a claim to the governor and it had only the support of 17 MLAs, he argued.
"The Congress Party protested the governor’s decision to invite Manohar Parrikar to form the government with support of 21 out of 40 MLAs and described it as ‘a murder of democracy’. In the face of the claim of these 21 MLAs led by Mr Manohar Parrikar, the governor could not have invited the minority of 17 MLAs to form the government. There are several precedents which support this decision of the governor".
Jaitley then presented several precedents for the governor's decision:
1.The BJP winning 30 out of 81 seats in Jharkhand and JMM leader Shri Shibu Soren with a support of 17 MLAs of his party plus others was invited to form the government.
2. In 2002 in Jammu and Kashmir, the National Conference had 28 MLAs but the governor invited the PDP and Congress combination of 15 + 21 MLAs to form the government.
3• In 2013, the BJP won 31 seats in Delhi, but the AAP with 28 MLAs with support of Congress was invited to form the government.
Jaitley also added that similar precedents had been set in 1952 in Madras, 1967 in Rajasthan and 1982 in Haryana.
Jaitley added that the question of single largest party versus a combine with majority support had been settled by former president Shri KR Narayanan in his communiqué in March 1998 when he invited Atal Bihari Vajpayee to form the government.
"The president had said “when no party or pre-election alliance of parties is in a clear majority, the Head of State has in India or elsewhere, given the first opportunity to the leader of the party or combination of parties that has won largest number of seats subject to the prime minister so appointed obtaining majority support on the floor of the House within a stipulated time. This procedure is not, however, all time formula because situations can arise where MPs not belonging to the single largest party or combination can, as a collective entity, out-number the single largest claimant. The president’s choice of prime minister is pivoted on the would be prime minister’s claim of commanding majority support”.
"The governor in Goa had only one claim of 21 MLAs out of 40 elected MLAs with Manohar Parrikar as their leader. The 17 MLAs of Congress did not even make a claim nor elected their leader. How could the Congress ever be invited to form the government?" Jaitley wrote.
Congress, BJP slug it out
On Wednesday, BS Yeddyurappa submitted the papers of his election as BJP Legislature Party leader to Governor Vajubhai Vala. Addressing the media while leaving the Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru, Yeddyurappa said the Governor has promised to take “appropriate decision”. Yeddyurappa claimed that Vala said he will consult legal experts and will take a decision soon on the ongoing power tussle.
The Congress and JD(S) are also holding meetings with their respective MLAs and have readied plans to “secure” the newly elected lawmakers at resorts and have alleged attempts by the BJP to poach at least five MLAs. All eyes are on who the Karnataka governor will invite to form the government in the southern state.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: May 17, 2018 08:58 AM