'Yedyurappa put into motion Operation Kamala'
After the Bharatiya Janata Party brought 121 members of the Karnataka legislative assembly from Karnataka to Delhi and paraded them before the President, the dust seemed to be settling down in the southern state. But the overnight bonhomie between Governor HR Bhardwaj and Chief Minister BS Yedyurappa was shortlived.
Even as the BJP is now stepping up its campaign for the recall of the governor for playing partisan politics, the central government had not, till the time of writing, taken a view on the governor's recommendation to dismiss the B S Yedyurappa government on grounds of a breakdown of the Constitution in Karnataka.
Leaders of the Karnataka unit of the Congress and the Janata Dal - Secular have been camping in Delhi, awaiting the Centre's decision on the governor's report.
Neerja Chowdhury spoke to former prime minister and JD-S supremo H D Deve Gowda about the ongoing political crisis in Karnataka.
The situation in Karnataka has become very confused, following the Supreme Court's verdict and the governor's recommendation that Article 356 be promulgated and Karnataka placed under President's rule. How do you perceive the situation?
There are three main issues. The first is the way the BJP government, headed by BS Yedyurappa, within a week of taking over, put into motion 'Operation Kamala (Lotus)'. This new -- and evil -- design was thought of to pay heavy bribes to MLAs belonging to the Congress and the JD-S, to make them resign. They were not only paid money but the next day, some of them were appointed as Cabinet ministers and some as chairmen of boards with Cabinet status.
A special economic package worth Rs 8-10 crore, was given to their constituencies for development. The idea was to make the electorate feel that staying with the opposition would not help their constituencies. The electorate was made to believe that the MLAs had resigned for the development of their constituencies, as the MLAS had to face elections within six months.
They (Yedyurappa) had already taken 18 MLAS (from the Congress and the JD-S) and now there are reports that he might take another six.
If this type of a cancerous disease is going to spread in the country, it will shake the very basics of our democratic system.
What, then, is the point of the people voting or the meaning of the mandate?
Image: Deve Gowda
'BJP high command is totally defunct'
What are the other two points you wanted to make?
All political parties must take serious note to put an end to this type of disease by suitable legislation.
If anybody resigns with the objective of getting some sort of a benefit from the ruling party, they should be banned from contesting elections for the next five years. A penalty clause must also be incorporated in the People's Representation Act.
When a vote of confidence is asked for by the governor, and if without giving them an opportunity to those members you disqualify them and throw them out of the House with police support, two hours before its commencement, this is something that has to be considered by Parliament. Suitable amendments have to brought in the Tenth Schedule, prescribing the role of the whip, of the chief minister, of the party president.
There should be no scope given to the CM to give representation to the Speaker, and with his intervention, get a suitable order from the Speaker, destroying the very dignity, decorum and decency of the Speaker's chair.
The remarks by the Supreme Court are a slap in the face of the Speaker. The court has said, and I am quoting from the judgment, "Extraneous considerations are writ large on the face of the order of the Speaker and the same has to be set aside".
And the third point?
After the Supreme Court judgment was delivered, the BJP high command could have immediately taken steps, and asked the Speaker and the CM to step down, and elected a new leader -- since the party has got a majority -- and a new Speaker. And they could have retained their government. But the BJP high command is totally defunct and not performing its responsibility.
The BJP has dubbed the governor's report as politically partisan?
I am not holding a brief for the governor. He was an experienced law minister and a senior advocate. And he has exercised all the powers under the Constitution, at every stage, cautioning the CM about his cabinet colleagues' misbehavior. He has periodically reported to the ventral government and the President. The Union government also suggested a second floor test last year, because they wanted to show that they were not eager to take action.
The BJP is now calling for the governor's recall?
Why should he do that? What sin has he committed?
Are you for the dismissal of the government as recommended by the governor?
After the Supreme Court verdict, in my humble opinion, and I have already written to the PM, the UPA chairperson (Sonia Gandhi), the home minister (P Chidambaram) and the finance minister (Pranab Mukherjee), who is also the floor leader of the Lok Sabha, that there is no other option except to impose President's Rule in Karnataka under Article 356 to save the state.
Image: B S Yedyurappa
'I had dismissed the BJP government in Gujarat'
Have you heard back from them?
I have met the PM and the home minister and talked (on phone) to the UPA chairperson and to Pranab Mukherjee and (Defence Minister) A K Antony.
What did they say?
They said they would examine all these things.
If the government is sacked, it would have to be ratified by Parliament, and the UPA could run into problems in the Upper House?
You would recall that I had dismissed the BJP government in Gujarat when I was the prime minister. At that time, the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam the Telugu Desam Party and the Left parties were opposed to the use of Article 356. But after explaining the circumstances that prevailed on that day in Gujarat, they accepted the view expressed by the governor at the time.
I think all the thinking people would do so today, even those political parties which do not advocate Article 356 as their policy or philosophy.
Have you sounded out the UPA allies on this?
It is for the government to do that.
It is an established convention that the majority -- and viability of the government -- has to be decided on the floor the house
The Surpeme Court has cited judgments that numerical strength is not the only criteria to impose Article 356.
Image: Governor H R Bharadwaj
'What is the BJP's answer'
The BJP is now mounting a major campaign for the recall of the governor
Arun Jaitley, who is a senior BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said he would accept the high court judgment, but he found the Supreme Court's judgment to be erroneous.
I am not a law graduate, but the BJP says it is fighting to destroy corruption in the country, to bring back black money hideen abroad from all over the world. (BJP leader L K) Advani raised this during the election campaign.
But here is a case of Yedyurappa facing several charges. The governor, after verification, had sanctioned approval to prosecute him on 24 charges. The Lok Ayukta had given its report on mine mafia loot. Yedyurappa himself says that one crore, 30 lakhs tonnes (of iron ore) was removed from the state without authorisation. Each tonne costs nearly Rs 3 crore.
Where is the moral authority of the BJP to say it will fight corruption, when your own CM is involved and the corruption amounts to lakhs of crores of rupees.
What is the answer they have? Are these not double standards of the BJP's so called high command?
You want to blame the Congress. But at least (Congress leader Suresh) Kalmadi is in jail, (DMK leader A) Raja is in jail, Karunanidhi's daughter is in jail. The chief minister of Maharashtra is facing an enquiry. What is your answer?
Image: Arun Jaitley