Till the morning of May 15, even up to the lunch time, Vajubhai Bala, the governor of Karnataka, would have hardly imagined that he would be the focus of all attentions within a few hours. For the octogenarian former finance minister of Gujarat- he became the speaker in the Gujarat assembly too- presenting 18 budgets and entering into the record books may have been a cakewalk, but taking a measured and judicious decision aftermath the fractured mandate in the state assembly polls would be extremely difficult.
Ironically, only fractured mandates bring the governor to the centre stage, though for a few days or weeks, otherwise, no one bothers to remember who is living inside the state’s Raj Bhawan. This brief period is very crucial for the governor, as his prudence will be measured, discussed, criticized or in the worst case, challenged in the court of law.
Political observers may refer to all the available rule books and such past events and suggest the governor should do this and that but what Vajubhai Vala actually does is his own prerogative. He will do what he believes is right. Unfortunately, the governor’s decision can only satisfy only side, not both. One will celebrate, and the other will cry foul, and sulk.
In the last one year only, there has been more than one instance where, parties with single largest majority have been made to sit in the opposition, thanks to the swift manoeuvring of the BJP. In Goa and Manipur the mandate was in favour of the Congress, but the saffron party was able to seize the opportunity. In Bihar, Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) and BJP alliance left Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (it had the maximum seats in the Assembly) stumped.
It seems the BJP, either, was dead sure it would win the number of seats required to form government, or failed to imagine that Congress could outsmart it. Congress will try its level best to save its last fort in partnership with JD(S). On the other hand BJP will leave no stones unturned to have B S Yeddyurappa on the chief minister’s seat. All means to attain power, in politics, are fair, at least for our netas.
Congress is no novice to using ‘unethical ways’ to grab power. During the UPA 1 regime, a classic drama was enacted in 2005 in Jharkhand. The Jharkhand election results had thrown up a hung assembly. The NDA had staked its claim to form the government and it had even paraded its 41 MLAs -required to form a government in the 81 member assembly- before the governor.
However, much to everyone’s surprise, the governor Syed Sibtey Razi chose to invite Shibu Soren’s Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) to form the government, even though the party had submitted only a list of 36 MLAs.
The NDA was sure that Soren, once he became the chief minister, would use all types of powers to lure away at least one, if not more, of the five Independent MLAs to ensure a majority for his government. Thus, it hatched a plan to keep its flock together. Also, before Soren could make a move, the NDA wanted to parade all its MLAs before President A P J Abdul Kalam to build pressure against the governor.
With the Congress led UPA I at the centre, it was a herculean task ahead of the NDA. News was floated that all the legislators would be flown from Ranchi airport to Delhi, but in reality only 36 of them boarded the aircraft on the given date; the newly elected other five were whisked away in the night in cars to Durgapur in West Bengal and then to Bhubaneswar airport, from where they were flown in to Delhi.
In Ranchi, the just-sworn in Shibu Soren government, panicked and ordered all the roads blocked to ensure that the five independent MLAs should not get out of the state. The police, convinced that the BJP would take the independent MLAs to a state under its control, searched all vehicles on the roads to the neighbouring states of Chhatisgarh (ruled by a BJP government), and Orissa (ruled by the NDA member Biju Janata Dal). But, it failed in its mission, miserably though.
Arjun Munda had also moved the highest court against the Governor’s decision, What happened next is history. Let that history not repeat again.