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K'taka politics: BJP tears into Congress for 'lessons on Constitution'

New Delhi [India], May 16 : Following Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala's invitation to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa to form government in the state, the party on Wednesday tore into the Congress for trying to teach it "lessons on the dignity of the Constitution."

"The party that blew up the constitution to shambles is teaching us the constitution, the party that imposed President rule the most number of times and weakened the democracy is giving us lessons on dignity of the Constitution," Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said at a press conference here.
"I am saying all of this on behalf of the BJP because today BJP is being taught the Constitution, so I am saying it with great humility that Congress please doesn't give us lessons," he added.

In retaliation to Congress' allegations, Prasad racked up the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya following which then Congress-led Central Government had dismissed the BJP state governments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, and imposed the President's rule.

"There was no need for that, but seeing opportunity, they dismissed three BJP governments," he said.
To drive his point home, Prasad raked up the 1975 verdict of the Allahabad High Court that convicted the then prime minister Indira Gandhi of electoral malpractices and said, "A Prime Minister from Congress has also faced trial for attempting to convert minority to majority through unethical, undemocratic and corrupt means, so I am saying it with great humility that the Congress please doesn't give us lessons on Constitution, or teach us the ethics of democracy."

Defending Governor Vala's decision, the Law Minister also threw some light on the 1994 SR Bommai case and said, "The main point in the Bommai judgement was that if the Chief Minister loses the majority, then the Vidhan Sabha was the only forum where the majority is to be tested."
He also quoted a paragraph from the judgement that stands relevant to the situation in Karnataka.

The judgment thus reads, "We make it clear that what we have said above is confined to a situation where the incumbent Chief Minister is alleged to have lost the majority support or the confidence of the House. It is not relevant to a situation arising after a general election where the Governor has to invite the leader of the party commanding majority in the House or the single largest party/group to form the Government. We need express no opinion regarding such a situation."

Further, Singh also quoted the Sarkaria Commission and MM Punchhi Commission, both of which states that the Governor should choose the chief minister from among the parties or group of parties in the following order of preference- pre-poll alliance- largest single party staking a claim to form the government with the support of others including Independents, and lastly the post-poll alliance.

The Minister also informed that the founders of the Constitution gave the President and Governor the power of discretion when no one party holds majority, and that the Supreme Court has not imposed any restriction on this power but only stated that it should not be arbitrary.

Results of the Karnataka Assembly polls announced on Tuesday evening showed that the BJP won 104 seats, emerging as the single largest party, while the Congress and JD(S) bagged 78 and 37 seats, respectively.

Soon after, the Congress announced that it would support the JD (S), taking their total seat share to 117, thus resulting in a fractured mandate.

However, the Governor invited BJP's BS Yeddyurappa to form government in the state and gave him 15 days to prove majority.



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