Friday, 18 May 2018

I support Indian Supreme Court's order to give limited time (just a day) to BJP and Congress - Janata Dal (S) POST-POLL alliance to prove their party/alliance's majority on Karnataka state assembly floor

Last updated on 20th May 2018

As a beneficiary, lover and supporter of democracy in India, I felt it appropriate to put up this post. But please note that I have a PUBLICLY NEUTRAL role in these social media posts that I put up related to Indian politics. I do vote in Indian elections but I keep who I vote for as a private matter.

I think this matter would have international interest as Bangalore (Bengaluru), the Silicon Valley city of India, is the capital of Karnataka! Bangalore has the India main offices (India HQs) of many USA tech. companies. reports that the Indian Supreme Court ordered a floor test to be conducted by 4 PM tomorrow (19th May) for both BJP and Congress-JD(S) POST-POLL alliance to prove their majority. The report quotes a Congress leader who was arguing the case in the Supreme Court, saying that the SC order also said that secret ballot should NOT be used for this floor test.

I think this short period will reduce, and perhaps prevent, any buying of MLAs (Member of Legislative Assembly) from opposing side parties for the sake of having a majority. Note that the Congress-JD(S) alliance is a post-poll one. Had it been a pre-poll one, I think the Governor would have been bound by some commission (Sarkaria commission, if I got the name right) guidelines on such matters, to invite the Congress-JD(S) to form the government. But as there was no alliance before the polls, perhaps the Governor felt that it is up to his discretion to choose whom among the two (BJP and Congress-JD(S)) to invite to form the government.

Another interesting development in this regard, which I read/viewed elsewhere, is that the Congress leader who argued the case in the SC, said that the request for the SC to provide guidelines on who should be invited to form the govt. in such situations, has been scheduled to be heard in the future (10 weeks later, if I recall correctly). That's really good. As then there will be SC arrived guidelines (which would be based on Indian constitution) which will set the norms for whom the Governor should invite to form the government in such cases.

What is important is that frank buying of MLAs in such fractured verdict scenarios should be prevented or at least reduced drastically. MLAs selling their support to a party they opposed in the election, for money (which would typically be huge sums of unaccounted money), is ****bad**** for democracy. The Supreme Court stepping in to stop or drastically reduce this corruption of Indian democracy, is very welcome.

Please note that I am not criticizing any particular Indian political party. Allegations of buying MLA support (for huge sums of unaccounted money) (or MP - Member of Parliament support) to form governments have been made against various Indian political parties over the years. What needs to stop or at least be drastically reduced, is the buying of MLA (or MP) support, no matter which Indian political party does or attempts to do the buying.

Given below are some comments from my Facebook posts, and, associated with this blog post:

In response to a comment (slightly edited) ("Sir: I think the spirit behind the numbers is more important than the numbers themselves. How can a last ranked party having less than 17% seats of the Assembly hope to float a CM over the first ranked one, (which) has received more than twice the seats? It is a mockery of the popular mandate. Democracy has indeed stood defeated here. And electoral reforms need to be undertaken."), Ravi S. Iyer responded:

--Name-snipped--, It is unusual for the 3rd place party to have its leader proposed as the Chief Minister (due to 2nd place party providing its support). But I think that is allowed as per India's constitution.

I don't know enough about the history of democratic parliamentary system politics to know whether that is always bad, and so should be prohibited. Anyway, if that is to be prohibited then a constitutional amendment would be needed. That's how I think it is. Those are the rules of the game.

In response to a comment ("SC can't override the Governor"), Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
I think here we have a dispute on what is the constitutional thing to do, and if the constitution does not specify it in black and white, what is the right thing to do based on other parts of the constitution. And for this, I think the Supreme Court of India is the correct institution to study the matter and give a judgement/order which becomes settled law, till there is a constitutional amendment related to the matter or the Supreme Court judgement is appealed (I presume there is an appeal process for even the Supreme Court judgement).

What is very heartening to note in this case is that the BJP leader (current CM) of Karnataka, Shri Yeddyurappa has publicly said that he respects the SC order (and will abide by it). I appreciate that stand of Shri Yeddyurappa.

Karnataka: Numbers Beyond Him, Yeddyurappa Resigns as CM Before Floor Test,

Ravi: I think that's a fair outcome going by Indian constitution and laws. Shri  Yedyurappa (BJP) had his chance to prove a majority on the floor of the house and he failed to get the numbers he needed.

Now I guess the governor will give Shri Kumaraswamy (JD(S)) the chance to prove his majority on the floor of the house, as the Congress (2nd place party after the BJP) has chosen to support him as CM, instead of staking a claim itself. If Shri Kumaraswamy gets the support of a majority of MLAs (including Congress MLAs) then, as per my understanding of the constitution and laws in this respect, he becomes CM (or if he is made CM prior to this floor test, he continues to be CM).

At any point down the line in Shri Kumaraswamy's term, if the opposition is able to give prima facie evidence that he has lost the majority, then a no confidence motion can be introduced during which if Shri Kumaraswamy fails to prove his majority, he will have to step down as CM.

I think that seems to be the straight-forward constitutional and legal view of the matter.

Yeddyurappa made a very emotional speech in the state assembly, talking about sacrifice and dedicating his life for the poor and farmers of the state. He spoke in Kannada but this video has some voice-over in English translation., 22 mins. Towards the end of the speech he said that he is resigning as CM.

I am sure that leaders of other parties too would make similar speeches, if and when given the opportunity.

Good to hear such talk even if one is not sure how much of it translates to action. But it is great to see elected leaders speak with humility towards the electorate. That is one great feature of democracy, which I really appreciate.

Absolute monarchies (which continue in some parts of the world today) are a stark, really stark, contrast to representative democracy that Indians including me are able to enjoy in India. In absolute monarchies even today, the subjects have to be scared and reverential towards the monarch. Here in our democracy, the CM is reverential (at least in his speech) towards the electorate! What a wonderful contrast!

Vr Ganti wrote (partial comment):
Yes, what you said is the correct situation, Ravi S. Iyer Garu. Also there is rule that NO CONFIDENCE MOTION can be brought in only after a gap of 6 months from the previous one. ...

Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Vr Ganti sir, Oh I see! 6 months minimum gap between two successive No Confidence Motions! That seems to be sensible.

Vr Ganti wrote: The idea must be that you can’t have every day NCM

Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
The first few seconds of this video:, show that immediately after Shri Yedyurappa made his speech, as he was walking towards the exit, he accepted the handshake of senior Congress leader (at national level) Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad. The video does not show it but it seems that Mr. Azad had extended his hand as Shri Yedyurappa was walking out and Shri Yedyurappa graciously accepted it. Shri Yedyurappa then shook hands with senior Congress national leader and leader of opposition in Lok Sabha, Shri Mallikarjun Kharge (originally from Karnataka, I believe) with the latter patting Shri Yedyurappa on his back.

As an Indian citizen, I found it very heartening to see this. Politics is a terribly nasty field at least when it comes to verbal attacks. But it was great to see that at human level, even after this bitter and tough contest in Karnataka, the senior BJP leader of Karnataka publicly shook hands with the top national leaders of the Congress.

Also, it was very interesting to see that two top union minister, BJP leaders who hail from Karnataka, Shri Ananth Kumar (Parliamentary Affairs minister) and Shri Sadanand Gowda (a former CM of Karnataka too), were seated to the left of Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad. Perhaps this was an observers kind of bench in the Assembly for union ministers and senior Lok Sabha opposition leaders - these people are not elected MLAs of the Assembly.

Ultimately, India needs some level of humanness and co-operation between ruling and opposition political parties both at the centre and in the states, for development of the people. So I applaud this nice gesture and find it very heartening to see.

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