It is a murder of democracy

Old political affiliations prevail over constitutional norms

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In plain words it was a murder of democracy when Karnataka Governor Vijubhai R Vala, once the finance minister under the Gujarat BJP government, invited B S Yeddyurappa whose party was clearly short of absolute majority to form the government. It is his discretion but one may think he has gone too far to please the party he was affiliated with for long.

The hectic poll campaign run by political parties in Karnataka particularly the campaign run by the BJP wherein not only the Prime Minister Narendra Modi but also his cabinet colleagues participated day in and day out, confused the people to the extent that their franchise produced a hung House. On the part of the Congress, the president of the party Rahul Gandhi, CM Siddaramaiah and other leaders ran the campaign in a sound and systematic way. After a long rest advised by doctors, Sonia Gandhi also addressed an election rally. Till the last moment both the Congress and the BJP were confident of positive results in their favour. After polling, the exit polls were also confusing. Except two or three, other polls predicted the keen competition with BJP having an edge. A union minister on the fag end of the counting declared that the BJP would certainly cross the half way mark. When the results were declared the BJP was 26 seats ahead of the Congress and 8 seats short of absolute majority.

Luckily the Congress was guided by premonition. Sonia Gandhi, even when the process of counting was on, directed Gulam Nabi Azad to call up the JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda and inform that the Congress would extend its outright support to his party. As expected the response was positive and after this crucial accord, the son of the JD(S) chief H D Kumaraswamy and Gulam Nabi Azad told press persons that they staked their claim with the Governor. When the results were declared the BJP got 104, the Congress 78, JD(S) 37 and others 3. The BJP lost no time and B S Yeddyurappa, party’s CM candidate informed the Governor that his was the single largest party and therefore he should be given a chance to form the government.

The irony of the situation was that the Congress got the highest share of the total votes polled and that was 38 per cent, the BJP 36.2 and the JD(S) 18.3. This percentage shows that the Congress is the most popular party in the state, but it could not covert its percentage into seats. It lost many seats with a difference as low as 100 to 500. In our electoral system the seats count and not the percentage of votes. The celebration of the BJP is justified, but some BJP leaders commented that the people voted for a Karnataka free of the Congress. In the frenzy of jubilation, the absurdity of the happy lot may be understood.

When there is a hung assembly, the Governor is to judge as to which party should be invited, but he has to see which party would be able to form a stable government. The ruling of the Supreme Court is that the single largest party should be invited. The Supreme Court also observed that the combination of parties representing the majority should be invited. In the present case, the single largest party is not in a position to form the government. The JD(S) with the support of the Congress submitted its plea to the Governor. One candidate belongs to the BSP which is in alliance with the JD(S). One represents a small regional party and one is an independent candidate. Even if these two or three MLAs join the BJP, the BJP cannot prove majority. On the contrary, the JD(S) and the Congress can form a stable government. With his decision, the Governor simply opened the door for horse-trading. It is reported that the BJP is offering Rs 100 crores for a single MLA. Is it not the murder of democracy?

In a rare hearing in the night of May 16 and the morning of May 17, the Apex court refused to stay the swearing-in ceremony but one of the judges remarked that they could ask the government to stop functioning if the need arose. Now it is the SC which will decide the validity of the Governor’s action.

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