Wednesday, 5 October, 2022
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15 days for Yeddyurappa: Legitimate period to prove majority or will it facilitate poaching?

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B.S. Yeddyurappa has taken oath as the chief minister of Karnataka after governor Vajubhai Vala gave him 15 days to prove his majority on the floor of the assembly.

Critics say the period is too long and will encourage horse-trading.

ThePrint asks: 15 days for Yeddyurappa: Legitimate period to prove majority or will it facilitate poaching?


Karnataka governor is a BJP agent, not a constitutional authority

Margaret Alva
Former governor, Gujarat

The governor should have given only five days to B.S. Yeddyurappa to prove his majority. He has been absolutely wrong in giving 15 days. Once you are in Raj Bhavan, you are no longer a party person. You are supposed to act as the protector of the Constitution, and your role as a governor is to safeguard the rights of all sections.

What has happened in Karnataka is unheard of. The BJP announced the time and date of Yeddyurappa’s swearing-in even before the Raj Bhavan could inform the public. This only goes to show that the governor was in direct touch with the party. He has broken all norms of propriety. I am really surprised at what he has done.

Vajubhai Vala was the speaker of the Gujarat assembly when I became the governor, and I have great respect for him as a person. But now he seems to be an agent of the BJP rather than a constitutional authority.

Fifteen days to prove majority? This is unheard of. This amounts to nothing but allowing time to buy off people and play games. They can now start raiding leaders and threatening them with CBI cases, and use all available pressures of the government machinery to control them with money. It is an invitation to horse-trading, and the governor is undoubtedly working under instructions from Delhi.

I do not understand how the governors acted differently in the case of Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya, where they invited post-poll alliances to form the government though we (the Congress) were the largest party, but have done the absolute opposite in Karnataka to seek power for the BJP. Is this not a travesty of constitutional norms?


Governor has his own discretion, but 15 days is too much of a time

Santosh Hegde
Former Karnataka Lokayukta

It’s the governor’s choice to decide who he wants to call to form the government, as the law is not very clear. But I do agree that 15 days is too much time to prove majority. It should have been much less: As soon as possible or a maximum of seven days.

As for the allegations of Vala being a BJP agent, people cast similar aspersions on the Supreme Court for hearing the case at 1.30 am. According to me, the governor has exercised his right to call the single largest party.

You cannot say he has behaved in a way unbecoming of the governor’s office as he has his own discretion and he has used it. Yes, the 15 days’ time will allow room for illegal activities and horse-trading. But it is unfair to label him a BJP agent. Who are these people to call someone a BJP agent? You take your people to a jungle and keep them there, are you trusting your MLAs?


Congress-JD(S) should not panic knowing their flock is committed to the cause

Vikram Sampath
Author and historian

It has been the convention that the president/governor, at their own discretion, gives the leader of the single largest party a period of 10-15 days to prove s/he enjoys the majority in the house.

I don’t think the 15 days given to Yeddyurappa need to be such a big issue. It is not as if a political leader looking to poach can’t do it in three to five days. I am sure the outreach to members of other parties began on 15 May itself, and that is why Congress and JD(S) MLAs have been herded to resorts.

In my view, the protests over the 15-day period are meaningless nitpicking and quibble. In any case, if the opposition coalition is so confident that they have the numbers and that their flock is committed to the cause, they should not panic. In that case, the Yeddyurappa administration, like Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s 13-day government at the Centre in the 1990s, will only last a fortnight. Keeping this in mind, the governor has rightly administered the oath to BSY alone, and not his cabinet.


Karnataka governor creating a new political reality of poaching & breaking of parties

Prithvi Datta Chandra Shobhi
Social historian and political commentator

It is indisputable that governor Vajubhai Vala is within his discretionary powers in inviting B.S. Yeddyurappa to form the next government in Karnataka. Indeed, he wouldn’t have erred by inviting the leader of the post-poll alliance with majority support either.

However, in this situation, the governor isn’t simply making a technical choice based on constitutional provisions or Supreme Court judgments. He is instead creating a new political reality. Therefore, he should have considered the political ramifications of his decision, be it the possible poaching of opposition MLAs or breaking of the Congress or JD(S) legislature parties, before setting a fortnight’s deadline.

The governor’s choice should primarily have been guided by conventions of political morality.

Once the JD(S)-Congress alliance had submitted documents proving it had majority support, the governor should have asked one simple question: Does the BJP have a clear path to majority without making JD(S) or Congress MLAS resign from their seats or abstain from voting, or breaking legislative parties?

While the three strategies might not break the anti-defection law or be in violation of constitutional provisions technically, they surely are breaches in spirit. If the BJP considers these strategies acceptable, the protests of its leaders that they aren’t into horse-trading don’t mean anything. No one will believe that the three scenarios can unfold without offers of money or office.

Clearly, after five years, Karnataka has returned to the age of resort politics and horse-trading. In such a scenario, the 15 days given to B.S. Yeddyurappa surely seem excessive, especially when the exercise generally warrants a week’s deadline.


Congress resorting to antics because of their unwillingness to accept rejection

Malavika Avinash
Spokesperson, BJP

Ideally, the BJP should be given the time due to it to prove its majority on the floor of the assembly. The governor has invited Yeddyurappa to take oath as chief minister because of the immense response he has received from people.

But the Congress is clearly not willing to accept its rejection by people, and is employing all kinds of antics to keep the party with the largest seat share out of the government.

The main issue of contention is the 15-day period allowed to the BJP to proves its majority. But the question of poaching doesn’t arise at all. There will obviously be MLAs who are disgruntled with the Congress-JD(S) alliance. We need to remember that Siddaramaiah himself left the JD(S) after a bitter spat between him and Kumaraswamy. Now, suddenly they are in a marriage of convenience. There are bound to be disgruntled MLAs.

Even though the Supreme Court didn’t stop the swearing-in ceremony, it has taken up the matter. The Congress can keep trying, but, hopefully, the Supreme Court will factor in Karnataka’s history and circumstances. We hope they rule in our favour Friday.


BJP caught between the devil and the deep blue sea

Tanveer Ahmed
National spokesperson, JD(S)

In a case like this, it is very simple. Either you have the numbers or you don’t. The time period can directly impact that. It provides a window of opportunity for horse-trading.

It is the prerogative of the honourable governor to determine that a stable government should be formed, but keeping in mind the Constitution. BJP says that they wrote to the governor stating that they have the numbers. The Supreme Court has asked for documentation or proof, but they haven’t produced that yet.

To not antagonise the matter further, the court has not stayed the oath ceremony. However, the decision to grant them 15 days is a sad and disappointing move. The people of the state are watching and what they are inferring is that the governor of the house can be influenced. BJP conveniently reroutes the rulebook according to its needs. In Goa, Meghalaya and Manipur, they had a different yardstick. In Karnataka, it is different.

Governors and Presidents occupy constitutional offices, not parties. But that doesn’t seem to be the case here. If Kumaraswamy is making statements to the effect that BJP is trying to buy its way in, then there has to be some truth to that. There have been a lot of internal reports about the same.

They made a similar move in 2008 but they should realize that the MLAs who resigned couldn’t make a comeback. Congress and JD(S) have retained those seats.

BJP stands exposed either way. They are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. If suddenly, out of nowhere MLAs start resigning and they win, people will know exactly what happened. They will lose the country if they form the government. If they lose, it still won’t absolve them of the mistake they have made in staking a claim to form this government. It is an immature move from a veteran party because politically it fails on both ends.


A perverse political consensus wants to use governor to interfere with state’s mandate at their will

Alok Prasanna Kumar
Senior Resident Fellow, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy

Giving B.S. Yeddyurappa 15 days to prove his majority on the floor of the house is an act of bad faith on the part of the governor, Vajubhai Vala.

There is no hard and fast legal rule about this and the merits of the governor’s actions have to be assessed on the facts of each case. Had there been no other claimant to the post of CM, and no real coalition emerging, the governor’s actions may have been justified.

Post-poll negotiations are a valid means of government formation and the governor would have been justified in giving parties time to arrive at some sort of power-sharing arrangement.

Where, however, two equally valid claims to form the government are presented, giving one side so much time to prove majority encourages horse-trading. A majority cobbled thus may form the government for a short period of time, but questions on its legitimacy and stability will persist.

In the present case, since the matter has reached the Supreme Court, one hopes that this action of the governor will be interdicted, and a shorter time given to Yeddyurappa to prove his majority.

That, however, will only be a temporary solution. The larger problem remains that there is almost no expectation of any governor acting in good faith anymore. This is not a recent phenomenon. Almost since Independence, governors have failed to live up to the high levels of neutrality and impartiality asked of them in the Constitution. There seems to be a perverse, all-party consensus that governors should be used to interfere with the popular mandate at the state level in whatever manner is deemed fit. This state of affairs only harms India’s democracy and federalism.


Karnataka Governor has opened himself to the charge of being openly partisan

Maneesh Chhibber
Editor (Investigations & Special Projects), ThePrint

Granting 15 days for a floor test to a chief minister who claims to enjoy majority support in the legislature is a move that is bound to evoke suspicion.

Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala’s invitation to BJP legislature party leader B.S. Yeddyurappa to form the government and prove that he enjoys the confidence of the house within 15 days of assuming office is something that is bound to raise questions. The period of 15 days will be used by the new CM to shore up his numbers – either by trying to effect a division in the Congress or the Janata Dal (Secular), or getting some MLAs from the two parties to resign so as to bring down the strength of the house.

Horse-trading is a term that every adult Indian knows very well, and understands has nothing to do with horses. After every election that throws up a hung assembly, the phrase becomes a part of popular discourse.

In giving 15 days to Yeddyurappa, the governor has opened himself to the charge of being openly partisan. The governor has the discretion in matters like this, but it has to be exercised judiciously.

There have been instances in the past where the Supreme Court has advanced the trust vote. Now that the apex court is slated to hear the petition filed by Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee chief G. Parameshwara and JD(S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy against the governor’s invitation to Yeddyurappa,fair play can be expected.


Compiled by Deeksha Bhardwaj and Rohini Swamy.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Pastures apart, we know which way legislators move – and that’s towards anyone who has the government. They have to recover their election expenses and what’s the fun in being the opposition today? Why 15 days, even 1 day was enough to swing votes. The distance between the gates of assembly and the hall is pretty long.

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