BJP wins first round in Karnataka, now Yeddyurappa must get numbers

For the Congress, it was a second quick setback. On May 15 it was declared defeated in the Karnataka Assembly election, and two days later, it lost the legal battle for instant restraint on the Bharatiya Janata Party from forming the Government. But the party has not given up either legally or politically. its court battle will continue, and so will the political drama; senior central and State leaders sat on a dharna outside the Assembly building n Bengaluru, claiming that it was a shameful day for democracy. Congress president Rahul Gandhi termed the development as murder of democracy, while one of his spokespersons remarked that the BJP had done an “encounter” of democracy.

The irony is not lost on anyone. If there is any party that stands accused of stifling democracy in the country, it is the Congress. Emergency is just one instance. Within the party itself, there is little democracy; even elections to the the party president’s post is fixed. But let’s leave politics aside for the moment and study the reality.

According to guidelines paid down by both the Sarkaria Commission and the Punchi panel, which deliberated on Centre-State relations, in the eventuality of a hung House, the President or the Governor must follow the following options in the order of precedence. First, a pre-poll alliance must be given an opportunity to form the Government. If that is not possible, the leader of the single largest party (in numerical terms) should be invited (provided the leader has staked claim). And only if the first two options have been either exhausted or not relevant, should a post-poll grouping be called to form the Government.

The Karnataka Governor followed these guidelines in letter and spirit. But of course there are many legal tangles and one has to wait for the final word that the Supreme Court will deliver on the matter.The immediate task before Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa is to make up the shortfall in numbers. Nobody seems to know how the BJP will manage to win the trust of eight more MLAs. Meanwhile, the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) have some answering to do. People are bound to question them on both morality and political wisdom. How is it that the Janata Dal (Secular), elected largely from just one region of the State, can helm the Government with its nominee as the Chief Minister? How can the Congress, which lost power, whose more than a dozen sitting Ministers were defeated, and whose seat tally went down from 122 in 2013 to under 80 now, have the moral right to be in Government? Is all of this not murder of democracy?