THE decision of Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala to invite the Bharatiya Janata Party, which emerged as the single largest party in the May 12 elections in the state, appears to have opened a Pandora’s Box. Governors in three states, Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya, ignored the Congress that emerged as the single largest party, and invited a BJP-led alliance to form government. The double yardsticks on the part of governors have given rise to allegations of partisanship against them and triggered protests by the Congress in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya. The Congress MLAs in Goa met Governor Mridula Sinha on Friday to urge her to follow the Karnataka Governor’s example and give them an opportunity to form government. Similar claims have been made in Manipur and Meghalaya. In Bihar the Rashtriya Janata Dal, which is the single largest party, is making a similar claim.
The Congress strategy in making the claim is to ‘expose’ the ‘arbitrariness’ of the governors who are guided by the council of ministers of the central government. The Congress does not hope to be able to topple the BJP-led governments in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya where it is the largest single party. The reason is the political arithmetic has not changed since the results came in. Although the Congress did emerge as the single largest party in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya, it did not have the support of other parties or independents to gather enough numbers to stake a claim to form government. Even though they are making the claim, the Goa Congress Legislature Party has not been able to convince the people how they are going to form government if, even taking it hypothetically, Governor Mridula Sinha invites them to. The BJP has questioned the Goa Congress move, saying, if they had the numbers why did not they move a no-confidence motion in the House to defeat the BJP-led government?
However, the inability of the Congress to cobble up a majority despite being the single largest party in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya did not allow governors to bend the Constitution to suit the interests of the ruling party at the Centre. The governors of the four states of Karnataka, Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya took decisions in accordance with what would suit the BJP to take over power. The constitutional provisions, enriched by the rulings of the constitution bench of the Supreme Court, require the governor to judge which party or combination of parties has the largest number to form a stable government, in case no single party or pre-poll alliance gets a clear majority. The key factor for the governor is his evaluation of who has the larger numbers. It was on the ground of their evaluation of who had the numbers that the governors in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya invited the BJP-led alliance in their state. However, in Karnataka, the larger numbers were clearly with the Congress-JD(S) alliance. Governor Vala should have invited the alliance to form government and prove its majority on the floor of the House. It was quite apparent that Governor Vala acted in a partisan manner to allow BJP legislature party leader B S Yeddyurappa to take oath. What was even more objectionable that he gave him fifteen days to prove majority. This was to give a very large window of time for the BJP to poach MLAs from other parties. Mercifully, the three-member bench of the Supreme Court found the window large and asked Yeddyurappa to take a floor test on Saturday.
It is really saddening to see that the party that takes pride in claiming to be ‘A party with a difference’ is following in the footsteps of parties they claim to be very different from. The BJP has tried to justify the Modi government’s double yardsticks in inviting a post-poll alliance in three states but denying such an alliance in the fourth by reminding the people how the Congress when it was ruling at the Centre had misused the offices of governors to grab power in states. Is it not clear that the BJP is a creature from the Congress planet and not a party with a difference? There is no denying that the Congress, during its virtually monolithic rule at the Centre with Indira Gandhi as its supreme leader, directed governors to take unconstitutional decisions, some of which were overturned by the Supreme Court. It is equally true that the Congress wickedly nourished the ‘aya ram, gaya ram’ culture to checkmate anti-Congress consolidation. And that is what the BJP is doing. It is directing governors to take unconstitutional decisions and it is wickedly nourishing the ‘aya ram, gaya ram’ culture, currently in Karnataka. Is that what their vision of Ramrajya is – Aya Ramrajya, Gaya Ramrajya?