Post-poll allies Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) officially staked claim before governor Vajubhai Vala to form the next government in Karnataka with their combined 116 seats here on Wednesday shortly after the Bharatiya Janata Party approached the governor with its claim to form the government with 104 seats in the currently 222-member Karnataka Assembly.
The Congress-JD(S) alliance has asked the governor to call them to form the government following a Supreme Court order of March 2017 in the case of the formation of a government in Goa where two parties were called to the form the government instead of the single largest party.
The BJP, which emerged as the single largest party in the Assembly in results declared on Tuesday, moved first on Wednesday to stake claim. The BJP held a 10-minute legislature party meeting where party president BS Yeddyurappa was elected as leader of the BJP in the legislature and then rushed to Raj Bhavan with the signatures of its MLAs to stake a claim to form the next government.
BJP leaders emerged smiling from the Raj Bhavan after meeting Vala at around 11.30 am. “We have given proof to the governor and we said we must be called to form the new government,” Yeddyurappa said.
“Our legislature party has elected me as the leader. I have asked the governor to allow me to take oath at the earliest. He said he would take an appropriate decision,” Yeddyurappa said after meeting the governor. BJP leaders said they were confident that they would get the first call from the governor.
The Congress and JD(S) also held their respective legislature party meetings and the JD(S) elected HD Kumaraswamy as its leader while the Congress did not elect a new leader and persisted with interim chief minister Siddaramaiah while designating party president G Parameshwara to interface with the JD(S). The Congress and JD(S) were given an appointment to meet the governor at 5 pm on Wednesday.
Following the meeting, the two parties staked their claim to form a joint government on the strength of their combined numbers. “We took a decision in the morning in the CLP to support the JDS to form the government unconditionally. We gave a copy of the resolution to the governor. The JD(S) state president HD Kumaraswamy also gave his party’s decision to align with the Congress to the governor. The governor has assured us that he will study the matter and take a decision within the framework of the law and the Constitution and also the recent judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of the Goa government,’’ Parameshwara said.
“The two parties have a total strength of 116, the BJP has 104. As per the Supreme Court’s recent decision, the single largest party need not be called on to form the government and if two parties come together and have a larger number they can be called — the Supreme Court has given this decision in the matter of the Goa government — and in this background we have appealed to the governor and he has said he will examine it,’’ the Congress state president said after meeting the Vala.
The Congress also claimed to have the support of all 78 of its MLAs despite rumours of desertion by a few MLAs from the Bellary region. The party also claimed support of two independent MLAs. Kumaraswamy said: “We have the support of 117 MLAs and the BJP has formed governments in three states on the basis of being the largest coalition party and this should be applied in Karnataka too.’’
Sources said the two allied parties would stage protests if they are not called to form the government. “We will decide our next course of action if a situation arises. We will discuss and decide,’’ Parameshwara said.
“They are short of numbers and being short of numbers, according to the Supreme Court judgment of a three-judge bench headed by the CJI about 14 months back, the single largest party’s claim to form the government does not hold good anymore if they do not have sufficient numbers to form the government,’’ senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said. “I am sure the honourable governor cannot overrule that judgment or ignore it. The governor must protect the Constitution of India.”
He said that by calling a party without the numbers to prove a majority, the governor would be facilitating horse-trading and “knowingly allowing a party to break”.
“That will be unconstitutional and undemocratic for any governor and I am sure the honourable governor of Karnataka will not choose that path. We are waiting eagerly for the governor’s invitation to Kumaraswamy to form the next government,” he said.