ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Reforming the Office of the Governor

The blatantly partisan actions of Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala in the aftermath of the Karnataka Assembly elections in 2018, which had thrown up a hung result, call for the need to scrutinise the post and functioning of governors within India’s constitutional scheme. Such malfeasance on the part of governors is not recent and their supposedly neutral role has always been more a pious hope than a reality. The need of the hour is serious constitutional reform, whether by the legislature or by the judiciary.

Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala joined a long and infamous list of partisan governors when he invited B S Yeddyurappa of the Bharatiya Janata Party to take oath as the chief minister of Karnataka recently. Per se, the decision was not objectionable. After all, the BJP had won the most number of seats in the just-concluded elections to the Karnataka state legislative assembly. However, Yeddyurappa was not the only claimant. H D Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal (Secular)—JD(S)—had the support of the Congress party as well, and thereby claimed the support of a simple majority of members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) backing him. Not only did Governor Vala ignore Kumaraswamy’s claim, he also gave Yeddyurappa 15 days to prove his claim; time enough, the cynics would claim, to “poach” MLAs from the Congress and JD(S) and stitch together a majority by hook or by crook.

As it happened, the Supreme Court stepped in and shortened that time period to a little less than two days by directing that a “floor test” be conducted on 19 May 2018 at 4 pm. More drama followed, but, eventually, Yeddyurappa resigned without having put his chief ministership to the floor test. H D Kumaraswamy has since been sworn in as chief minister of Karnataka for the second time, successfully having proved his majority on the floor of the house and having appointed a council of ministers to run the government. As things stand, the post-poll alliance between the Congress and the JD(S) will continue into the Lok Sabha elections of 2019 (Sharma 2018).

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Updated On : 28th Jun, 2018
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