Lessons from the Karnataka Episode

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The largest democratic country in the world was put to test following the Karnataka Governor’s abrupt decision to allow the BJP which emerged as the single largest party in the Karnataka election to form the Government when the Governor clearly knew that the BJP did not have the requisite number to stake claim to form the Government.
Karnataka went to polls on 12 May 2018 in 222 constituencies of the total 224 constituency of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly. The counting took place on 15th May 2018 and amidst much fanfare, the BJP easily secured 104 seats to its kitty with a vote share of 36.2%. The incumbent Congress was reduced to just 78 seats though it secured a higher percentage of vote share with 38 %. The third and the key player was the JD(S) which secured 38 seats in addition to one seat of BSP with which it had pre-poll alliance. Immediately, after the final counting was over. The Congress extended its support to the JD(S) to form the government in its bid to end the unprecedented rise of the BJP growth in India. In fact, both the Congress and the JD(S) were keen to oust the Saffron Party from forming the Government in Karnataka.
The people were gripped with fear that the Governor might act unconstitutionally given his soft corner for the RSS and the BJP. This speculation eventually came true when the Governor invited Yedyurrapa (the leader of BJP) to form the Government despite the fact that the Congress and the JD(S) which had struck a deal post-election result had requested the Governor to form the Government since they have the numbers. This plea was out rightly rejected and the Governor defied all sorts of constitutional norms by appointing Yedyurappa as the Chief Minister of Karnataka and gave him 15 days to prove majority on the ‘Floor of the House’. Fifteen days was enough time for the BJP to use all sort of tactics and involve in horse-trading to try to woo the Congress and the JD(S) MLAs. In fact, Congress and JD(S) MLAs were offered a whooping amount of 100 Crore and plump Portfolio to side with the BJP. It also gave them ample time to formulate and scheme devious plans for the Big Day i.e. ‘The Floor Test’. The Congress-JD(S) alliance took no time to file a writ petition at the Supreme Court demanding a stay on the governor’s invitation to the BJP to form the government.
Democracy was at stake! Minority had become the new majority going by the Karnataka Governor’s decision. It was the prerogative of the Governor to invite the leader of the majority party to form the Government and the Karnataka case was not exceptional. The Congress and the JD(S) had the numbers to form the Government. But the Governor acted on the contrary. The Supreme Court’s verdict came as a huge relief for many who had high hopes on the Nation’s highest judiciary; often considered as the last resort by every section of the society. The Supreme Court had quashed the Governor’s decision cutting short the period for floor test from 15 days to 2 days. The apex court also directed the Yeddyurappa government not to take any major decision till its majority was proven.
The debacle which was seemingly evident from the start came to reality on the 19th May 2018. The stage was set. All eyes were on Karnataka. The whole nation was glued to the Television sets for the Karnataka Floor test which was scheduled at 4 PM. The BJP didn’t had the numbers yet they entered the Assembly defiantly. After an emotional speech by Yedyurrapa at the Karnataka Assembly, BJP skipped the floor test and later Yedyurrapa submitted his resignation as the Chief Minister of Karnataka (The Chief Minister who broke his own record as the shortest serving Chief Minister of Karnataka).
The Karnataka episode which unfolded every two days starting from the 15th May has taught us some lesson which unwinds as follows:
1. The Governor who is considered as the Constitutional head should be appointed on the basis of merit and not because of his/her affiliation with a particular party. The fact that the Governor should act according to the constitution and not on the party lines should be seriously viewed at.
2. Basanagouda Daddal of the INC who is elected from the Raichur Rural constituency of Karnataka flatly refused the bribe which was offered to him. He had set a precedent for other politicians to emulate; that the moral and principle of an individual should not be compromised just because one is a politician.
3. Following the Supreme Court crisis in the earlier part of this year wherein four of the five senior-most judges of the Supreme Court openly spoke against the Chief Justice of India. The people became sceptical of the apex court because the government of the day had unscrupulously misused every institution of the country. The Karnataka incident has instilled hope in the minds of the people that the highest judiciary of the country cannot be subverted.
4. The Nagaland State BJP joined the bandwagon in the celebration of the victory in Karnataka a little too early by bursting crackers and shouting indiscriminately only to realize later that they had been jokers in the eyes of the people. The State BJP started to count the chickens even before they were hatched which proved to be very miserable.
The dust has finally settled down in Karnataka. The swearing-in ceremony of Kumaraswamy is scheduled on 23rd May, 2018. With great hope and expectation we look forward that the JD(S)-Congress Government will sail smoothly and in due course will teach us many great lessons like it did this time.
X Chophika Sumi
Bank Colony, Dimapur

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