Amid dramatic allegations of MLAs being lured with “₹100-crore offers” and busloads of legislators staging sit-ins outside the Raj Bhavan, Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala on Wednesday invited the BJP to form the government.
Earlier in the day, the hurriedly pieced-together coalition of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) submitted letters of support from their respective legislature parties to the Governor, as did BS Yeddyurappa of the BJP, who asserted that he would sworn in as Chief Minister on May 17.
Vala is learnt to have sought legal advice from Soli Sorabjee and Mukul Rohtagi. However, at the time of going to press, there has been no official communication from the Governor’s office.
The first reports about the Governor’s decision came when one of the BJP legislators, Suresh Kumar, tweeted that Yeddyurappa will be sworn in at 9.30 am tomorrow. Reacting sharply to the development, JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy said the move will unleash horse-trading. “Our MLAs were offered ₹100 crore by the BJP to break away. I want to know whether this is black or white money,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Chief Electoral Officer of the State submitted the notification for results of elections for 222 Assembly seats to the Governor. The BJP has emerged as the single largest party with 104 seats, eight short of the majority mark. The Congress with 78 and the JD(S) with 37 MLAs have made a post-poll alliance.
With two Independents and one MLA of the BSP, the newly-formed alliance claims to have a comfortable majority of 118 in the 222-member House. However, according to sources, at least two MLAs of the Congress remained absent from their legislature party meeting. The Congress and the JD(S) ferried their respective legislators to the Governor’s residence and were preparing to cart them to a resort, allegedly to stop “poaching” by the BJP.
With this decision, the Governor has not take into account the recent precedents in Goa, Meghalaya and Manipur, where the single largest party (Congress) was not invited to form the government.
For the BJP to win the trust vote, the strength of the Assembly needs to come down to 207, which means 15 MLAs have to abstain during the confidence vote. This was the modus operandi used by Yeddyurappa when he conducted the infamous “Operation Lotus” in the aftermath of a hung verdict in 2008.
Question of propriety
The Congress questioned the delay by the Governor to call Kumaraswamy to form the government. Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said Vala cannot take a decision which is against the Constitution. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad justified the Governor’s decision, saying the BJP did not need a lesson on constitutional propriety from the Congress.