Finally, Karnataka Governor Hans Raj Bhardwaj has got a dose of his own medicine. With the Centre rejecting his recommendation for imposition of President`s rule in the state, Bhardwaj’s desperate bid to topple the BS Yeddyurappa government has come a cropper.
It was for the second time that Bhardwaj recommended the Centre to impose President’s rule in Karnataka. Last year too, the Centre rejected a similar recommendation by Bhardwaj.
The Karnataka crisis may have blown over for now, but the events culminating to the crisis will continue to heat-up the political temperature of the state.
The genesis of Karnataka crisis
Last October, 16 rebel MLAs -- eleven from BJP and five Independents -- withdrew their support from BS Yeddyurappa-led BJP government in the southern state. Governor HR Bhardwaj immediately asked Yeddyurappa government to prove its majority on the floor of Legislative Assembly.
Hours ahead of the trust vote, Karnataka Assembly speaker suspended the all 16 rebel MLAs under the provision of Anti-Defection Law and hence they were not allowed to vote. The Yeddyurappa government scraped through the trust vote.
However, the Governor was not satisfied and immediately recommended the Centre to impose President’s rule in the state arguing that the BJP government “manufactured” majority during the trust vote. Despite the request, the Centre rejected the half-backed recommendation.
A miffed Governor asked the BJP government to go through another floor test. BJP government took up the gauntlet and won the second trail of confidence by managing the dissidents.
The story resurfaced this month with the Supreme Court setting aside Karnataka Speaker’s order on disqualification of the 16 rebel MLAs ahead of the October 2010 trust motion. Technically speaking, with the Supreme Court order, the rebel MLAs’ membership to the house was restored.
In what could be seen as a surprising move, following the Supreme Court judgment, all 16 rebel MLAs shot off letters to Governor HR Bhardwaj conveying their decision to support the Karnataka government.
The Supreme Court order coupled with the rebel MLAs U-turn was a blessing in disguise for the Yeddyurappa government as it enhanced the strength of the house. Not learning from the folly, a desperate Bhardwaj, brushing aside the glaring fact, recommended the Centre to impose President`s rule in Karnataka yet again.
The compulsion for Congress
Apparently Bhardwaj’s recommendation for President’s rule aims at favouring the Congress and weakening the BJP in Karnataka. But why is it that the Congress-led government at the Centre did not accept the recommendation? There are reasons.
First, the Supreme Court judgment on the rebel MLAs followed by their support to the Yeddyurappa government made it difficult for the Congress government at the Centre to stand-by Bhardwaj.
Second, accepting Bhardwaj’s recommendation could have proven to be suicidal for the Congress in Karnataka. Congress strategists know imposing President’s Rule in Karnataka and inviting a midterm poll won’t help the party at this point of time. Looking at the poor show of Congress in the recent by-elections, the central leadership must have calculated present strength of the party in the state.
Third, approving Bhardwaj’s recommendation could only have strengthened the BJP in Karnataka.
Yeddy has much to ‘thank’ Bhardwaj
Governor HR Bhardwaj and Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa are rivals for obvious political reasons. Nevertheless, the latter should be thankful to the former! As Bhardwaj runs his agenda to dislodge the government, the fraction-ridden Karnataka BJP has come together as a cohesive body to support Yeddyurappa and to prove Bhardwaj wrong. The strong backing of the central leadership to Yeddyurappa on this issue has further strengthened his position in the saffron party.
An assault on the Constitution
His Excellency the Governor HR Bhardwaj’s recommendation for dismissal of Yeddyurappa government was totally unconstitutional. Article 356 of Indian Constitution allows the Governor to recommend to the Centre the imposition of President`s rule if there is a failure of the constitutional machinery in the state. But while the strength of Karnataka Assembly has been established conclusively through the due constitutional process, what prompted Governor HR Bhardwaj to conclude that there was a breakdown of the constitutional mechanism in the state? It is not to dispute that Bhardwaj went out of his way to please his Congress masters.
Bhardwaj is a great survivor in Congress politics. He has a long history of faithfully serving the party. Remember, how he, as a Union Law minister, played an important role in closing the Bofors bribery case by giving his “collusive legal advice”?
Ever since Bhardwaj assumed the office of the Governor in Bangalore, he has been persistently hatching conspiracies against a democratically elected government by misusing his power and position. He has been relentlessly working to score brownie points to suit Congress’s political agenda. Skilfully engineering political fluidity, he has succeeded in bringing political instability in the state.
For these reasons, HR Bhardwaj will go down in the lexicon of political history as one of the worst Governors. A Governor is a constitutional authority. He is supposed to work in a non-partisan, neutral and objective manner. Unfortunately, Bhardwaj has stooped and brought shame to the high constitutional office.
There is a need to recall HR Bhardwaj immediately as the Governor!