The game is over. It ended in an anti-climax. After being in power for just 55 hours, Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa is gone, after writing one of the most shameful chapters in Indian democratic history. His and his party’s efforts to strangulate democracy have failed. He had to go without facing a floor test shows his admittance that the government was formed without adequate numbers. In fact, the entire BJP leadership should hang its head in shame for propping up a minority government which stood no chance of winning a confidence vote.
In the most undemocratic drama played up in Karnataka, the Supreme Court’s decision to grant only one-day time, drastically reducing the 15-day period granted by Governor Vajubhai Vala, to prove majority helped to save democracy in the State. It gave little time for the BJP to indulge in horse-trading which had started in right earnest. Even Mr Yeddyurappa was allegedly shown trying to bribe an MLA to switch sides. All efforts to cobble up a government came to a naught.
What happened in Karnataka has never ever happened. Even before the elections were held, BJP’s Chief Ministerial candidate Yeddyurappa pompously declared that he would be sworn-in on May 17. It is strange for someone to do so even as the electioneering was in progress. Such a ludicrous and laughable announcement could be made only if there was a well-thought out plan to capture power, come what may. And it happened so. The BJP bagged only 104 seats, falling short by 7 members, in the Assembly which has an effective strength of 221. Yet, Mr. Yeddyurappa was administered the oath of office of Chief Minister by the Governor on the ‘pre-fixed’ date of May 17, rejecting the claim of Congress-Janata Dal (S) combine which has 115 members, well above the majority mark of 111.
The verdict of the Supreme Court in the 2006 Bihar President’s Rule case lays down a clear path for the Governor in this respect. Accordingly, the Governor has no option but to invite any party or alliance, either pre-poll or post-poll, to form the government once he was satisfied that it commanded majority support in the Assembly. To every discerning mind, it was evident that the Congress-JD(S) alliance with 115 members commanded majority, and not BJP with 104 members. But, in the high voltage drama, the Governor, a former RSS man who was Finance Minister for a long time in Gujarat, invited Mr Yeddyurappa and gave him an unprecedented period to prove majority on the floor of the House.
The absence of both Mr. Modi and party chief Amit Shah at the swearing-in ceremony made it obvious that everything was not hunky-dory in Karnataka. Both of them had attended the formation of new governments even in smaller states like Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya. They preferred not to witness the entry of their party to South India probably because they realized that sand was slipping beneath the feet of the new government. Yeddyurappa fulfilled his dream of being anointed the Chief Minister for another term. But the State paid a heavy price for it. A party has to come to power through battle of ballots; it is absurd to usurp power by means other than democratic. BJP would have learnt a bitter lesson from its failure of ‘Operation Lotus’.(Published on 21st May 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 21)