Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala holds the key in deciding which party gets the first oppostunity to prove majority in the state in view of a fractured mandate. While the Congress has been claiming that the Governor is bound to invite the Congress-JD(S) post-poll alliance, which has enough numbers, to form the next government, the BJP is of the view that the single largest party should be given the chance to prove majority.
The Congress has been citing past instances when the post-poll alliance led by second largest party were given first preference. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday evening, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said that the Governor is left with no option but to invite Congress-JD(S) to form the government. He said in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya, the Governors of the respective states had not extended invitations to the single largest party and opted to call the partners of the post-poll alliance to prove majority.
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad too argued on the same grounds to assert that the post-poll alliance between his party and JD(S) should be invited to form the new government. Speaking told ANI on Wednesday morning, he said that the Governor is ‘there to save the Constitution’ and he has to cut all his past associations before taking a call. He was referring to the fact that Vala was a BJP MLA and served as Speaker of the Gujarat Assembly prior to his appointment as the Governor of Karnataka.
“The single largest party doesn’t have the numbers. BJP has 104, we (Congress and JD-S) have 117. Governor cannot take sides. Can a person who is there to save Constitution, destroy it too? The Governor has to cut all its previous associations, be it BJP or RSS,” he said.
In case of the Goa, where the Congress emerged as the single largest party with 17 MLAs in the 40-Chair House, Governor Mridula Sinha opted to invite the BJP to form the government. The party had emerged as the second largest party with 13 seats in its kitty in 2017 Assembly polls. The party formed government with support of three MLAs each from the Goa Forward Party and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, and three Independents.
The Congress had then moved the Supreme Court contesting Sinha’s decision. The apex court, however, rejected the Congress’ arguments that the Governor could not have arrived to her satisfaction without consulting the leader of the single largest party. The Congress said that since an alliance between the BJP and other regional parties was not chalked out before the elections, the Governor should have asked the single largest party if it is in a situation to form the government. To this, the court had ruled that in such a situation the Governor has discretionary powers and noted that the party had not submitted the numbers before the Governor. The court ordered a floor test, saying the “sensitive and contentious issue can be resolved by a simple direction, requiring to hold a floor test”.
In Manipur too, the Congress emerged as the single largest party in 60-member Assembly. While the Congress had won 28 seats, the BJP had got 21. Governor Nejma Heptulla invited the BJP to form the government. The party formed the government with support of four MLAs each from the Naga People’s Front and National Peoples Party and one from the LJP. Heptulla had argued that it was not incumbent upon the Governor to call the single largest party, adding that the her responsibility is to see who has the majority and who will work in the interest of the people of state.
In Meghalaya, the BJP was ranked fifth in terms of number. The party had won just two seats in 60-member House. The party, however, managed to forge an alliance with regional parties to form the government with support of 34 MLAs. The Congress was the single largest party in the state with 21 MLAs. The parties that share power with the BJP are National People’s Party (19 MLAs), United Democratic Party (6 MLAs), People’s Democratic Front (4 MLAs), Hill State People’s Democratic Party (2 MLAs) and one Independent.