Congress moves SC as Governor asks BJP to form govt in Karnataka

BJP MLA B S Yeddyurappa after meeting Governor Rudabhai Vajubhai Vala, in Bengaluru, on Wednesday Photo: PTI
After a day-long drama and allegations of horse-trading over government formation in Karnataka, Governor Vajubhai Vala late on Wednesday evening invited Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader B S Yeddyurappa to form the government.

Yeddyurappa has been asked to take oath as the chief minister at 9 am on Thursday. In the communique from Raj Bhavan, the 75-year-old BJP leader has been asked to prove his majority within 15 days of assuming office.

Congress, which had jointly staked claim to form the government with Janata Dal (Secular), said it approached the Supreme Court seeking an immediate invervention by Chief Justice Dipak Misra. 

“We have filed a petition before the SC and have urged the registrar to allow hearing on it tonight (Wednesday) or early Thursday,” Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said. The Congress said it has sought the SC to postpone the oath-taking event and restrict time given for proving majority to three-four days.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala termed the governor a “stooge” of the BJP, who “on the instructions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah consigned the Constitution to the dustbin”. The Congress said the governor, by giving 15 days to the BJP, has opened doors for horse-trading of legislators.

Earlier in the day, Congress and JD(S) legislators had met the governor and submitted a list of 117 MLAs supporting JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy as the CM. At a conference later, Kumaraswamy alleged his “legislators were offered Rs 1 billion by the BJP to break away”.

While Union minister Prakash Javadekar rejected the allegations, BJP leader K S Eshwarappa said several MLAs in the Congress and JD(S) were unhappy about the alliance and were likely to break away from their parties on their own.

On Tuesday, the BJP had emerged the largest single party with 104 seats in an assembly of 222. Two seats will go to polls later this month. The BJP is seven short of the halfway mark. It reached out to an independent, who has already issued his support for Kumaraswamy, and also the lone winner of an unregistered party. The Congress has 78, JD(S) 37 and its ally Bahujan Samaj Party 1 legislator. The BJP, therefore, cannot reach the halfway mark of 111 unless it manages defections in the Congress and/or JD(S).

In the morning, Yeddyurappa was elected the leader of the BJP legislature party, after which he rushed to Raj Bhavan to stake his claim. "I requested the governor to allow me to take oath as early as possible. We are 100 per cent confident that he will take a decision immediately," Yeddyurappa said.

The governor is said to have consulted legal experts, including Soli Sorabjee and Mukul Rohatgi, both of whom maintained the governor could invite the largest single party as well.

After the governor’s invite to Yeddyurappa, Surjewala pointed to a SC decision of 2006, which, he said, clearly advised the governor to invite the pre-poll or post-poll alliance that can provide a stable government and not necessarily the largest single party.

Union minister and BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said his party did not want sermons from Congress, which had in the past misused constitutional provisions to dismiss Opposition-ruled state governments. 

The Congress had also pointed to recent precedents in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya where BJP-led post-poll coalitions were invited by respective state governors despite the Congress emerging the largest single party in each of these states.

The challenge before the Congress and JD(S) is now to keep their respective flocks of newly-elected legislators together.