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Governors decisions on Goa, Manipur are partisan
BJP cobbled majority through unfair means
By Harihar Swarup
Both the governors of Goa and Manipur have committed gross impropriety in inviting the BJP to form the government in two states. They ignored the basic provisions in the constitution, which lays down that first the single largest party be invited to form the government, asked it to prove the majority on the floor of the house within a specified period. If it fails, chance should be given to the second largest party. Both governors of Goa Mridula Sinha and Manipur governor Najma Hepttula flouted the constitutional provisions.

The Congress, which emerged as the single largest party in the two states, but fell short of majority, also committed faux pas. Firstly, it did not elect the legislature party leader and, secondly, did not stake claim to form the government. The BJP promptly took advantage of the situation, lured smaller parties and independents and, cobbled up majority to form the governments in two states. The beleaguered Congress has just lost the opportunity where it had chance of forming government.

In Goa, Governor Mridula Sinha ignored the established principle of inviting the single largest party in the wake of a fractured mandate, and appointed BJP leader Manohar Parrikar as chief minister. The BJP has 13 MLAs in a house of 40, four less than Congress. A similar situation has developed in Manipur, where Governor Najma Hepttula invited the BJP, which won fewer seats than the Congress to form the government. The Congress should have been invited first. The BJP claim should have been considered only if the Congress pleaded inability to form the government or failed the floor test. Both the gubernatorial decisions, in Goa and Manipur, are partisan.

Sinha's invitation to the BJP ostensibly rests on that party hastily submitting letters of support from the smaller parties - MGP and Goa Forward Party with three MLAs each- and three independents to claim a majority in the House. The premise of her decision is questionable; these parties did not fight election as the part of a coalition. In fact, Goa Forward Party ran an anti-BJP campaign. The BJP, of course, was quick to win over smaller parties and approach the Governor's office. But, this is not about running the Race to Raj Bhavan faster-speed cannot be overriding or pressing considering for the Governor while assessing a party's claim to form the government.

There have been occasions in the past where a party with the support of largest number of legislators has been preferred over the single largest party in the assembly in government formation. But this is also true that those decisions - the Congress and its allies have been beneficiaries - were disputed on grounds of procedure and propriety. The Justice M M Punchhi on Centre state relations in 2010 laid down some guide lines to be followed in appointment of a chief minister by a governor. It said the governor should invite the leader of "a pre-poll alliance commanding the largest number" or the "largest single party" to form the government in case no party or pre-coalition has a clear majority. The Sarkaria Commission, which studied centre-state relations in 1980s, held a similar view. The CM thus appointed must prove majority as per guidelines laid down by the Bommai judgement - on the floor of the assembly.

Ruling on a petition filed by the Congress, the Supreme Court asked the BJP government in Goa to prove its majority within 48 hours, instead of 15 days leeway give by Mridula Sinha. But it was a half measure. The court's reluctance to uphold the principle of inviting the single largest party first and therefore, to stay Parrikar's swearing in, is controversial.

--(IPA Service)


News Updated at : Sunday, March 19, 2017
 
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