‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’ age old proverb was very well proved during the last few days in Karnataka Politics.
As the Karnataka elections result was declared, Congress and JD(S) immediately formed an alliance along with 2 independent candidates to form coalition. Congress won 78 seats, while JD(S) won 37 seats. Together they had 117 seats(including independent candidates). Whereas BJP won 104 seats.
To form the government, a party should get 113 seats. The coalition (congress, JD(s) and independent candidates) had 116 seats. While BJP had 104 seats. When no one wins an absolute majority to form the government is called a Hung Assembly/Parliament.
Forming the government
According to the Indian Constitution, after elections, the Governor will invite the party with the absolute majority (113 seats and above) to form the government.
When none of the party gets absolute majority it is called Hung Assembly. In Hung Assembly, two or more parties will come together and form a coalition, and show the required number (that is 113 and above in Karnataka) to the Governor.
However, Indian Constitution does not provide guidelines on what the Governor should do during a Hung Parliament, and especially when there is disagreement between parties or coalition allies.
The coalition can be formed before elections that is called pre-poll alliance or after the elections that is called post-poll alliance.
In case of conflict:
As constitution did not provide clear guidelines, the Sarkaria Commission was formed in 1983 and they submitted the report in 1988. So, in case of conflict one has to refer to the Sarkaria Commission report of 1988. It provides certain guidelines for the Governor in choosing the chief minister especially when no party has absolute majority or when there is a hung parliament.
The order of preference for the Governor in such case is
- An alliance of parties that was formed prior to the elections
- The single largest party staking a claim to form the government with the support of others, including independents
- A post-electoral coalition of parties, with all the partners in the coalition joining the government
- A post-electoral alliance of parties, with some of the parties in the alliance forming a government and the remaining parties, including independents, supporting the government from outside.
The Governor, while going through the above process, should select a leader who in his judgement is most likely to get absolute majority in the assembly.
Talking about post-poll alliance, according to the Rameshwar Prasad case, January 2006, the the five-judge bench had adjudicated: “There is nothing wrong in post-poll adjustments and when ideological similarity weighs with any political party to support another political party though there was no pre-poll alliance, there is nothing wrong in it.”
BJP was invited to form the government
However, Governor invited the BJP to form the government, which had 104 seats without any other support from other parties or independent candidates. Whereas its clearly mentioned in the Sarkaria commission that “The single largest party staking a claim to form the government with the support of others, including independents’
Because Congress, JD(S) and independents had already got together and formed an alliance. If BJP had to get others support, then BJP had to indulge in horse-trading.
Congress, JD(S) approached the Supreme Court
Congress approached the Supreme Court, as it felt Governor went against the constitution and provided room for BJP for horse-trading, by giving 15 days time to prove the majority. However, SC did not stop swearing ceremony of Chief Minister Yeddyurappa. But Supreme Court said, if BJP has the majority then Yeddyurappa has to prove it on the floor of the house (Assembly) with 24 hours.
Today 19 April 2018, BJP failed to prove that he had 113 MLAs and he had to resign as he had only 104 MLAs.
Few questions raised:
BJP had 104 MLAs and had popular mandate?
Technically, none of the party had popular mandate, as none of them got the absolute majority.
Congress and JD(S) contested against each other and Congress and JD(S) formed alliance
Congress, JD(S) and BJP, all three parties contested against each other. If Congress did not support JD(S), BJP would have asked JD(S) support. Congress and JD(S) formed alliance in accordance to the coalition party to form the government. They have not gone against the Constitution. In politics the age old proverb ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’ applies very well.
JD(S) has just 38 seats and its leader will be the chief minister
In a party or coalition party, the party members elect a person among themselves to be the chief minister. So in a coalition if every member (that is 118 MLAs) elects and approves Kumaraswamy to be the CM, it is not against the constitution or against the popular mandate.
India being a Sovereign Democratic Republic, the governmental feature, that is, the power is with the people, upholds rule by the majority that are capable to hold the confidence of the people.
Hence, the Indian Constitution nowhere adheres to the single party government. Even a government that has come in minority can hold the office if it has the confidence of the people as was observed by the SC in S.R. Bommai Vs. Union of India”^ (9 judge Bench) that wherever a doubt arises whether a ministry has lost the confidence of the House, the only way of testing is on the floor of the House.”‘ The assessment of the strength of the Ministry is not a matter of private opinion of any individual, be he the Governor or the President. (1)
What is …
Coalition: A alliance of political parties forming a government
Alliance: A relationship based on similarity of interests, nature, or qualities.
A union or association formed for mutual benefit, especially between countries or organizations
Absolute Majority: A majority over all rivals combined; more than half.
Staking claim: Indicate something as one’s own
Ideological: Based on or relating to a system of ideas and ideals, especially concerning economic or political theory and policy.
Horse-trading: Hard and shrewd bargaining, especially in politics. Especially buying elect members with money and power
Prove it on the floor of the house (Legislative Assembly): Voting by the members in the legislative Assembly to their respective political parties. So whoever gets the majority will form the government.
Popular (people) mandate: In politics, a mandate is the authority granted by a constituency to act as its representative.
Technically: According to the facts or exact meaning of something; strictly.