Was the 24-hour time duration given to BJP to prove its majority a fair judgment?

Should the Supreme Court also have ordered INC and JDS to free its MLAs while giving just 24 hours to BJP to prove its majority?

Should the Supreme Court also have ordered INC and JDS to free its MLAs while giving just 24 hours to BJP to prove its majority?
Should the Supreme Court also have ordered INC and JDS to free its MLAs while giving just 24 hours to BJP to prove its majority?

Watching the drama play out between the Janata Dal (Secular) (JDS) and the Indian National Congress (INC) in the formation of government and allotment of portfolios makes me wonder if all this could have been avoided if the Supreme Court had done an additional thing in its ruling – As to what that could have been, let us capture the action as it happened during the period May 15May 18, 2018.

May 15, 2018

Counting starts in Karnataka and by the end of the day, it is clear that no party has got an absolute majority. To add insult to injury, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) finds to its chagrin that in several close contests, the margin of loss was less than the votes polled for None of the Above (NOTA) option. INC had reason to be disappointed too – it polled 38% of the votes to BJP’s 36.2% and still ended up getting 28 fewer seats. JDS managed to lose their deposit in 145 segments and still managed to bag 38 seats. Moving quickly (a rarity in itself), the Congress threw its support behind the JDS, saying that they would let H D Kumaraswamy be the Chief Minister[1].

But BJP being the largest party the Governor invited them to form the government and prove its majority in 15 days. The stage was set for horse trading.

May 16-17, 2018

Fearing that some of their elected legislators may switch support, both JDS and Congress sequestered all the MLAs and allegedly cut off even Television viewing and cell phone usage[2]. Don’t these elected legislators have a right to free will? Should they not have been allowed to go back to meet with their constituents and ask their opinion on the best way forward? After all each party had fought the other tooth and nail and hurled epithets at each other, just days before!

May 18, 2018 – The Verdict could have been better

Judgment should not only be fair but appear to be fair. While the Supreme Court shrunk the time given to BJP to 24 hours, it should have also ordered JDS and INC to free its legislators from captivity. For God’s sake, India is a democracy – the legislator represents his/ her people first and then the party he/ she belongs to.

One thought is perhaps that the Court was acting only on the issue of time for proving the majority but the decision could not have been considered in isolation – what if a significant portion of a party wanted to leave the fold? This is perfectly legal and is a way out if in case the leader shows fascist tendencies. The act of shepherding elected people is nothing but a form of dictatorship and an implicit admission that a party has no ideological unity – i. e. there is a price for everything and that will be prevented by all means fair and foul.

What is the way out?

We the people must educate everyone – rich/ poor and others about the value of our vote. Spend time researching the candidate and vote that individual who will do the best for your country, then your state and then you in that exact order. Leadership quality has been missing in our elected representatives for a while now and this must be restored or there will only be crises and the only thing coalitions will agree on is the eat and let eat policy. Cast your vote carefully. The 2000 rupees a party is giving you to vote is actually 5000 rupees of your own money!

References:

[1] Congress offers support to JD(S) to form government in KarnatakaMay 15, 2018, Times Of India

[2] As resort politics returns, no out-of-state havens for new Karnataka MLAsMay 16, 2018, Hindustan Times

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1 COMMENT

  1. It is a great misfortune of India and us Indians that we have to operate under this totally unfit and outdated system. Under this system, problems in government formation is a certainty. So is horse trading. Net net, people’s money gets sucked into big hands in this process.

    High time we broke away from outdated western ideas and constructs and build our own. Perhaps the Akhada Parishad might be a good model. We must look at a tiered system of representation and treat our politicians with far more respect that they get at present.

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