Is Vajubhai Vala the real kingmaker or the Supreme Court for Karnataka?

With the constant speculations roaring around Karnataka elections, Vajubhai Vala not so quietly proved his loyalty to BJP but, was his decision on the “real deal”?

With Supreme Court out with its verdict regarding the petition filed by Congress senior leader, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, BJP now has to prove its majority in the floor test tomorrow at 4 PM. This decision came after BJP’s lawyer Mukul Rohatgi asked for extended time till Monday for the floor test which was dismissed by the Supreme Court. The court also said that the Anglo-Indians will not be a part of the floor test until the time the majority is proven. The three-judge bench of the SC in the morning session asked BJP sternly ‘Why can’t the floor test happen tomorrow’? With these words, it asked BJP to go through the floor test tomorrow.

This decision by the Supreme Court is in a direct contradiction with the Karnataka governor’s order to grant Yeddyurappa to prove majority. Vajubhai Vala, governor of the Karnataka and a BJP loyalist took the decision of inviting BJP to form the government after the election results came out on 15th May and BJP stood out as the single largest party with 104 seats. The Congress-JD(S) post-poll alliance on the other hand with 116 seats filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging Vala’s decision. The petition was filed on 16th May, at midnight calling for urgent SC intervention in the matter and requested them to put a stay on Yeddyurappa’s oath-taking ceremony. Though, the Supreme Court did not necessarily stop the oath-taking ceremony it did give BJP an intimation to prove its majority in the floor test with-in 24 hours.

Amidst all this chaos, the governor’s decision had been the most controversial. Governor gave 15 days’ time to Yeddyurappa to prove majority when he had just asked for a week’s time. The question that looms over everyone’s mind is that such a long time for floor test to prove majority could open the door for horse trading. The governor’s action also sparked a lot of political uproar wherein Congress president Rahul Gandhi went to the extent of calling this the “murder of democracy”.

Before dwelling deeply into the reasons behind this decision let us have a look at the role of a governor in facilitating the formation of the government.

Role of governor

The Governor is the chief executive of any State in India. The powers and functions of the Governor resemble that of the President of the Union Government. His powers are generally categorised as Executive, Legislative, Financial and Judicial. The role he is to play with respect to the Karnataka elections is that of an Executive.

He appoints the chief minister of a state and on his advice, other ministers in the cabinet. He can also nominate one member in the State Legislative Assembly from the Anglo-Indian community if he feels that they are not adequately represented.

He plays a crucial role in case there is a hung assembly. In cases, like that of Karnataka, he has to adhere to the constitution which points towards the Sarkaria Commission recommendations.

What does the Sarkaria Commission recommend?

Sarkaria Commission, was instituted in 2005 as a constitutional bench of the Apex court in Rameshwar Prasad vs Union of India case. The Commission enumerated steps, the Governor needs to follow in case there is a hung assembly with no party with an absolute majority to form the government.

Here are the recommendations:

  1. Invite the alliance of parties established before the polls.
  2. The single largest party should be invited to form the government if it can show the required number with the support of other parties or independents candidates.
  3. A post-poll coalition formed by two or more political outfits by coming together to form the government.
  4. A post-poll coalition of parties including independent candidates to form the government.

However, Vajubhai Vala let BJP form the government despite the party not having majority.

Vajubhai Vala- the BJP loyalist and stern Congress opposition

Vajubhai Vala has had a fair share of ups and downs in his career. Vala has always been a barrier in Congress’s path for glory because of the immense respect that he has garnered over the years as a BJP loyalist. His tussle with Congress dates back to 1995. In 1995 Gujarat elections, the BJP won a majority of 121 out of 182 seats in the Legislative Assembly. Godhra MP Shankersinh Vaghela was pushed to be the Chief Minister of the state that saw the BJP coming to power for the very first time. However, Narendra Modi, the RSS pracharak who was central to the BJP win, threw his weight behind one-time mentor Keshubhai Patel.

Seven months later in October 1995, Shankarsinh Vaghela made his move. With the support of 47 BJP MLAs, he split from the party, forming the Rashtriya Janata Party. The RJP received the support of Congress, which had 45 newly elected MLAs.

Vajubhai Vala the then state head of BJP watched as Patel’s government was dismissed by the President on the recommendation of Prime Minister Deve Gowda.

On the other hand, his loyalty towards Narendra Modi dates back to 2001 when the latter was called in from New Delhi to take over as the chief minister after a rebellion in the BJP’s ranks, and Vala vacated his Rajkot seat for Modi to contest. This brought him into the good books of Modi, under whose chief ministerial tenure Vala served as the finance minister for nine years.

Soon after Modi came to power at the Centre, Vala was rewarded with the governorship of Karnataka. Clearly his move to invite Yeddyurappa to form the government was seen as returning a favour.

So, why is Supreme Court’s verdict so important?

Supreme Court’s verdict of holding a floor test tomorrow for Yeddyurappa to prove majority on the floor reinstates people’s faith in the institution. The verdict is an assurance that there will be no room for any ill practices like horse trading and any act to breach the sanctity of the constitution will not go unchecked.

Now it is to be seen who becomes the actual king maker- the governor or the Supreme Court?


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