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'This will lead to a very ugly assault on the Constitution'

By Shobha Warrier
May 18, 2018 18:18 IST
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'... in the form of possible payments to MLAs and horse-trading for the BJP to win.'

IMAGE: BJP workers celebrate the Karnataka election verdict. Photograph: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI Photo

With the governor's invitation to Bharatiya Janata Party leader B S Yeddyurappa coming under Supreme Court scrutiny, and the grant of 15 days to prove his majority reduced to 24 hours by the apex court, uncertainty prevails over Karnataka's politics.

On Saturday, May 19, when he is scheduled to seek a trust vote on the floor of the House, will Yeddyurappa get the support of 8 more MLAs and prove his majority?

Or, will the Congress and Janata Dal-Secular combine with its avowed support of 117 MLAs trump him?

Either way, Dr V Suresh, national general secretary, People's Union of Civil Liberties, feels it was undemocratic on the Karnataka governor's part to invite Yeddyurappa to form the government.

Also,"there is nothing immoral about the fact that the Congress is supporting the JD-S to form the government," Suresh, below, tells's Shobha Warrier.


How do you view the governor asking Yeddyurappa as leader of the single largest party to form the government in Karnataka and swearing him in?

The Constitution does not have specific provisions on this point. There are equal number of examples when the largest number of body and the largest alliance were called.

But if you go by the recent Supreme Court case law which authorised calling the largest set of people who have crossed the majority mark and not the largest party that does not have the majority, then the governor should have called both sections for proof.

If you have to prove your majority in the assembly, you have to elect the speaker. So, calling the BJP that has the minority of members to form the government is a travesty of the Constitution.

The BJP has no moral authority to talk about Constitutional propriety. They have not followed it in the last couple of years; in Goa, in Manipur and in Meghalaya.

Even notionally, the BJP has not got the support of 111 members. The rule is to call whoever has the majority.

The BJP cites the S R Bommai judgment in defence of the BJP being asked to form the government...

They may quote the Bommai judgment. You also have the Goa judgment by the Supreme Court where it upheld the Goa ruling that the post-poll group which crossed the 50% mark be given the chance to form a government.

In Karnataka, where is the majority that the BJP is showing?

The fact is, they have only 104 MLAs and 112 is the mark. They are 8 short and there are no 8 'Others'.

It is very unfortunate that the Constitutional spirit, ethos and principles are treaded upon.

This is going to lead to a very ugly assault on the Constitutional spirit in the form of possible payments to MLAs and horse-trading for the BJP to win.

The Constitution also says the decision is left to the governor's discretion.

Public probity and public interest weigh at this time than political expediency.

The governor of Karnataka is a BJP appointee who was also a finance minister and a deputy of Narendra Modi in Gujarat. You can't escape the background.

Whatever it is, he is holding the Constitutional role of the governor. He should have been guided by recent convention which was upheld by the Supreme Court in the case of Goa.

It is extremely improper on his part to call the BJP to form the government and give them 15 days' time. Anything can happen in 15 days' time and they are destroying the very spirit of democracy.

If you look at the recent instances of Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya, there was the Congress as the single largest party and then there were post-poll alliances.

When the post-poll alliances staked their claim, the governors of these states who are all BJP appointed, chose the post-poll alliances as they should be given the first opportunity to form the government.

In Goa, the Congress did not stake a claim...

That cannot be the basis. The question is: Did they (the BJP) have the highest number of people? No.

You can't have examples to suit you at different places.

The Goa incident went up to the Supreme Court and it was upheld. So, it had the sanction of the Supreme Court as a legal principle.

The Congress ruled Karnataka and was voted out by the people. Does the party have a moral right to form the government again?

The Congress did not say it was going to form the government. They only said they would support the JD-S. The chief minister will be H D Kumaraswamy.

The BJP has absolutely no moral basis to talk morality to others as we saw election propriety descending to the level you would have never thought of.

The Congress did not go down to this extent.

The Congress might not have had an alliance with the JD-S, but our system is first beyond the post.

To say that the Congress was voted out and therefore they should not take a stand is meaningless.

The fact is, they have 78 MLAs, not 20 or 30. There is no validity in the argument that they can't take a political stand.

So, there is nothing immoral about the fact that the Congress is supporting the JD-S to form the government.

Do you feel there has to be some correction somewhere so that this kind of a situation won't arise again after elections?

I think very broad-ranging election reforms are badly needed. PUCL has been asking for it for a long time. For example, we have been talking about the Right to Recall for some time.

Also, who should be permitted to stand and who should not be.

PUCL was the one that brought in NOTA. PUCL feels it is the fundamental right of citizens to know the candidates.

Another thing is, political funding of elections.

PUCL has been against the current corporate funding of parties. We are against election bonds.

The very process of floating election bonds is a process by which the ruling party can get all the funding and they don't have to present the accounts.

There are many election reforms that are required.

Like, all the political parties should be brought under the income tax ambit and RTI ambit and they should declare their source of funding.

Corporate funding of all political parties should stop, and the activities of all the political parties should be monitored by the Election Commission through an independent mechanism, which includes citizens.

If you can bring these three things as electoral reforms, a great check can be brought about.

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Shobha Warrier /