Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala greets newly sworn-in Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa, at a ceremony in Bengaluru. (Photographer: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI)

Can Bihar, Goa Governors Be Asked To Follow Vala’s Playbook? Legal Experts Weigh In

Opposition parties including the Indian National Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal are taking the battle for Karnataka to other states.

After Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala’s decision to invite Bharatiya Janata Party’s BS Yeddyurappa to form a government in the state, Congress and alliance partner RJD today approached governors of Bihar, Goa, Meghalaya and Manipur asking for a review of their earlier decisions where the single largest party was not called upon to form a government. The BJP won 104 seats in the recent polls, short of the majority mark of 113 seats in the 224-member Karnataka assembly.

The Congress had emerged as the single largest party in Goa, Meghalaya and Manipur assembly elections but the BJP, which had fewer seats, eventually formed governments in these states with the support of regional parties. The governors in each of these states had chosen to invite the largest post-poll alliance instead of the single largest party to form governments.

“There should be only one principle for everybody,” said senior Supreme Court lawyer KTS Tulsi. “You cannot change goal posts. The goal posts have been fixed by the Supreme Court. The Governor is not an autocrat.” Tulsi is also a Rajya Sabha member nominated by the Congress party.

The outcome in Bihar was less straightforward. The pre-poll alliance of the Janata Dal (United),RJD and Congress won the 2015 election with 177 seats in the 243-seat assembly. Subsequently, JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar broke away from the alliance after nearly two years to partner with the BJP. The RJD, though, was still the single largest party with 80 seats – a fact they chose to remind the governor of today.

According to constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap, “Every state is different and every Governor is different.” The decision of the Karnataka Governor need not have been influenced by decisions made by other governors in other states, he pointed out.

Every governor is different and no governor is bound by the decision made by some other governor, taken in another situation in another state.
Subhash Kashyap, Constitutional Expert

Also read: Karnataka Results: No Rule Book For Governor To Turn To

Besides, it matters little which party the governor calls upon to form the government, since eventually a majority has to be proven on the floor of the house, Senior Supreme Court Advocate Amitabh Sinha argued. Sinha is also a member of the BJP.

The doctrine that the floor of the house is sacrosanct and will be valid in Karnataka also, like in Goa and Bihar.
Amitabh Sinha, Senor Advocate, Supreme Court Advocate

But the party in power at the Centre has a definite advantage, Kashyap pointed out. The post of governor is a constitutional one but the appointment is made at the discretion of the party ruling in New Delhi, he explained. “It is an inbuilt advantage for the party in power that has benefited various parties at various times.”

Watch the full interview here.

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