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Why Karnataka Governor Must Give Priority To Cong-JD(S) In Govt Formation

Recent precedents set by governors on hung assembly verdicts gives Congress-JD(S) a clear advantage.

With Karnataka throwing up a hung verdict and the Congress and the JD(S) deciding to come together—jointly, they have inched past the simple majority mark of 112—all eyes are now on governor Vajubhai Vala. It’s unclear as to which formation the governor will invite to stake a claim to form government.

But if governor Vala goes by the precedent set by his counterparts in Goa and Manipur when the assembly polls there threw up hung verdicts last year, the Congress-JD(S) should get a preference.

In Manipur, the BJP won 21 seats and the Congress 28 in the 60-seat assembly but it was the BJP that eventually formed a government in alliance with other parties. Similarly in the 40-strong Goa assembly, the BJP had won 13 seats and the Congress 17. And it was BJP again that managed to form an alliance.

The BJP-led Union government back then was in favour of post-poll coalitions with the required numbers getting precedence over the single largest party.

“In 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,” then finance minister Arun Jaitley had said.

Past precedents

Parties with fewer seats have been invited to form the government by the governor in the past.

In Jharkhand in 2005, the BJP won 30 out of 81 seats but it was the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha with only 17 seats that was invited to form the government.

In Jammu and Kashmir 2002, the National Conference won 28 constituencies but the governor invited the Congress and PDP who won 21 and 15 constituencies.

The BJP won 31 seats in Delhi in 2013, but the AAP who won 27 seats was invited to form the Government.

There are other such incidences which took place in 1952 (Madras), 1967 (Rajasthan) and 1982 (Haryana).

BJP Must Not Engage In Horse-Trading

The BJP appears to have been stunned by what the eventual numbers turned out to be in Karnataka. With the party leading in over 120 seats at one point, BJP leaders were photographed biting away at sweets. But with the party now stranded well short of the majority, the local leaders have privately expressed their dismay at the turn in fortunes. Most poll pundits believe that it is virtually impossible for the BJP hereon into stake a claim to form government. It can only do so if it indulges in horse-trading and brings to bear the might of the Modi establishment. But unlike in Goa or Manipur, the nation’s eyes are on Karnataka and the state’s governor. Any move to divert from the script—of the governor letting Congress-JD(S) alliance prove its majority in the assembly—will not do the BJP any good.

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