Centre adopts cautious approach

Last Updated 11 October 2010, 19:04 IST

The core committee of the Congress met here on Monday night, but decided to review the situation at the Union Cabinet’s meeting scheduled for 4:30 pm on Tuesday. The possibility of the Centre awaiting the outcome of a legal battle to resolve the crisis before taking any initiative on its own looked distinct on Monday evening.

The government led by Manmohan Singh will have to look at several issues before arriving at any decision, either in favour of President’s rule or otherwise. First of all, Singh, if his high command decides to impose Central rule on Karnataka, will have to cross a hurdle at the Union Cabinet which has a substantial number of members from the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagom. The regional ally, a strong opponent of Article 356 of the Constitution, will oppose any move to activate this provision of the statute.

Thereafter, the UPA will have to think of getting the action passed in Parliament in its very next session in November first week. It can get a bill on President’s rule passed in the Lok Sabha where it has the numbers. The bill will be tested in the Rajya Sabha as the government does not have a majority.
The government  will have to depend on several other parties such as the Left, All India Dravida Munnettra Kazhagom, Telugu Desam Party, Biju Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party to get the bill through in the Upper House. All these parties, including the Left, are generally against the invocation of Article 356. Thus, it may become next to impossible for the Centre to get the bill passed in the Rajya Sabha.

Also, the Centre may not upset the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with the winter session taking place next month. This may look strange but the Congress needs the support of the BJP like it did in the last monsoon session. The ruling combine depended a lot on the BJP recently, especially in the passage of the Nuclear Bill.

In addition to this, elections in Bihar are round the corner. A decision to dethrone the BJP government in Karnataka may give the party a handle in Bihar where it, in the company of the Janata Dal-United, is perceived to have an edge.

As on Monday, the Congress seemed to be in a dilemma over its next steps in Karnataka.
The Congress had earlier taken a stand not to dirty its hands in Karnataka, but the party has got itself involved in the state now.

The party is also aware that Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa will be made a martyr if the Central rule is imposed on the State.  The party leadership is said to have been advised to await the outcome of the high court as the possibility of the court staying the disqualification of MLAs cannot be ruled out.

If this happens, the question is: Does the governor have the power to direct the chief minister to seek a vote of confidence again? However, another possibility of the issue going to the apex court cannot be ruled out.

Why the chief minister should be made to pay for follies, if any, committed by the speaker is another moot point.

For all technical reasons, the chief minister has won the trust vote as sought by the governor. Should an action of the speaker be held against the chief minister?
Also, will the Congress be prepared to strike an alliance with the Janata Dal-Secular, billed unreliable, in the long run? Some of these issues will be on UPA leaders’ mind when they take up the Karnataka crisis on Tuesday.

(Published 11 October 2010, 19:04 IST)

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