Why Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala is right to invite BJP to form government and how it is different from Goa and Manipur

Posted on 2018-05-16 08:02:36 by Neel Kamal

Summary

As per the Sarkaria Commission and the Punchi Commission, government will invite the single largest party who is staking claim to form the government in case of hung assembly. In Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya Congress party didn't stake their claim to form the government. Hence Governor invited post poll alliance to form the government. However in Karnataka BJP being the single largest party has already made their claim to form the government, it is logical enough to give them the first chance.

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The BJP has emerged as the single largest party in Karnataka election but fell eight seats short of a majority. The Congress having 78 seats has extended unconditional support to third-placed rival JD(S) with 37 seats for a post-poll alliance to keep BJP out of power. All eyes are now on Governor Vajubhai Vala who will have to decide whether to call BJP to form the government or JD(S)-Congress combine, which together have the majority in the 224-member Assembly.

The BJP and Janata Dal Secular-Congress’ post-election alliance have both staked claim. Now the question is who should be given the chance to form the government?

What constitution says?

The Constitution itself says little on this when no party gets a majority. Article 75 states that the “Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President”. Article 164 states that the “chief Minister shall be appointed by the Governor”. So there is no scripted path for governor to follow.

Sarkaria Commission Recommendations, 1988

The Sarkaria Commission was set up by the central government in 1983 to review Centre-state relations and examine and suggest changes within the framework of the Constitution of India, expressly recommends inviting the single largest party first to avoid any controversy. “This has been upheld by the Supreme Court in 2005. 

As per Sarkaria Commission order of preference the governor should follow in case of hung assembly:

  1. An alliance of parties that was formed prior to the elections
  2. The single-largest party staking claim to form the government with the support of others, including Independents
  3. A post-electoral coalition of parties, with all the partners in the coalition joining the government
  4. A post-electoral alliance of parties, with some of the parties in the alliance forming a government and the remaining parties, including Independents, supporting the government from outside

MM Punchhi Commission Recommendations, 2010

The Punchi Commission reiterates the Sarkaria Commission’s principle of calling the single largest party. 

As per Punchi Commission order of preference the governor should follow in case of hung assembly:

  1. The group with the largest pre-poll alliance commanding the largest number
  2. The single largest party with support of others
  3. The post-electoral coalition with all parties joining the government
  4. The post electoral alliance with some parties joining the government and remaining including Independents supporting from outside

Experts Opinion

“He or she (the governor) has to invite the leader of a party or an alliance who in his or her opinion is likely to command the confidence of the House.” - Sanjay Hedge, senior Supreme Court lawyer

“If the BJP were to be invited and manages to break the JD(S), it has to steer clear of falling foul of the anti-defection law. Whatever decision the Governor takes, whether calling the single largest party or another alliance, he mustn’t take any unnecessarily step that could encourage or precipitate horse trading,” said GC Malhotra, a former secretary-general of the Lok Sabha.

References : Hindustan Times

“It is up to the understanding of the governor whom he calls to form the government. It is up to him if he wants to call the single-largest party or a coalition government” -  Subhash Kashyap (Constitutional expert)

Why Governors didn't give chanve to congress in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya when they were single largest party?

Earlier Governors didn't invite Single Largest Party in either Goa, 2017 (INC, 17 out of 40 seats), Manipur 2017 (INC 28 of 60) or Meghalaya 2018 (INC 21 out of 60).

As per the Sarkaria Commission and The Punchi Commission, government will invite the single largest party who is staking claim to form the government in case of hung assembly. In all three mentioned states Congress party didn't stake their claim to form the government. Hence Governor invited post poll alliance to form the government. 

The Supreme Court dismissed the Congress’s petition challenging GOA's governor's decision to invite BJP to form the gvernment by stating that:

You (Congress) don’t have the numbers and that’s why you didn’t claim to form government… You haven’t demonstrated before the governor that number is in your favor

However in Karnataka BJP being the single largest party has already made their claim to form the government, it will be logical enough to give them the first chance.

 

 

 



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