Television debates suddenly became highly confusing during the Karnataka legal stand-off, with the Congress quoting BJP leader Arun Jaitley (who had tweeted post the Goa and Manipur elections in 2017 that “in case of a hung Assembly, if majority of the elected MLAs form a coalition, the governor would be constitutionally right in inviting the leader of the majority coalition to form the government and prove their majority within a short period”). But those looking for irony would do better to study the Shibu Soren vs Arjun Munda floor test drama in the Jharkhand Assembly in 2005. That Assembly, too, had thrown up a hung House, after which a UPA government appointed Governor, Syed Sibte Razi, had overlooked the claims of the NDA’s Arjun Munda (41 MLAs) and instead invited the JMM’s Shibu Soren (who had 36 MLAs, but claimed support of 5 independents as well) to form the government. The case went to court—with Abhishek Manu Singhvi arguing for Soren—and yes you guessed it right—Mukul Rohtagi appearing for Munda. This time, the roles were reversed as Rohtagi questioned the long time frame given to Soren to prove his majority on the floor of the House, arguing that it could lead to, ahem, “horse-trading”; while Singhvi requested the court not to tinker with the constitutional powers vested in the Governor and the Speaker for conducting the Assembly. He had even argued against the court appointing an observer for the floor test, commenting wryly that “the court would not like Parliament to appoint an observer to watch the hearing in a case.” Oh dear!
CWC Vs Marg Darshak Option
Those wondering why Rahul Gandhi is dithering over reconstituting the Congress Working Committee, specially after he has been given a free hand to nominate one, don’t realise just how little elbow room he actually has; or so says Team Rahul. As a key member of Team Rahul pointed out, there are as many as 15 former CMs who are jobless and will have to be accommodated, apart from a former Congress president (i.e. Sonia Gandhi), a former Prime Minister (Dr Manmohan Singh), not to mention a 93-year-old (soon to be former?) treasurer. Which leaves Rahul with only a handful of vacancies in the 25-member Working Committee. Maybe he should borrow a page from Modi’s playbook and appoint a Marg Darshak Mandal of his own!
Colouring it Right
Even as the television channels—and later the courts—debated over the Karnataka poll result, two people had no qualms as to claiming ownership of the Karnataka win. When Prime Minister Modi and Amit Shah addressed a press conference at the party headquarters on the day of the results, the map of India on the dais showed Karnataka all coloured in saffron. As far as the duo was concerned, the mandate was in their favour, and they certainly didn’t let a little matter like a trust vote get in the way of that confidence!
Timing it Right
Enough has been said about the “nataka” in Karnataka, including speculation about the timing of the Governor’s invite to Yeddyuruppa, for this happened late in the evening, well after various channels had broken the story that it would be the BJP and not the JD(S)+Congress that would be invited. There is a reason for this; although the invite letter had been typed by 3 pm that afternoon, Yeddyuruppa did not want it delivered before 7 pm that evening as he believed that there was a rahu kaal (inauspicious time) from 12 noon to 7 pm that evening. So he first wanted the stars to be aligned right before he went about aligning the MLAs in his favour.