The decision to direct the governor to seek a fresh mandate was taken at a Congress core committee meeting chaired by party chief Sonia Gandhi and attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and ministers Pranab Mukherjee, A K Antony and P Chidambaram.
The committee, which coordinates between the party and the government on important issues, viewed the governor’s action seriously and asked Chidambaram to speak to him to set a fresh date for Assembly mandate.
It seems the Home Ministry initially was one with the governor on the issue of clamping the Central rule but the matter being a hot potato, a political call had to be taken. Thus, the 90-minute meeting held at the prime minister’s residence took stock of the developments over the last few days in Karnataka.
Top sources told Deccan Herald that the core committee took the decision on a second vote keeping in mind larger issues such as support of the allies in the Cabinet and tough possibility of the resolution on president’s rule being passed in the Rajya Sabha. It was of the opinion that the governor should not have directed the Assembly Speaker to withdraw the notice issued to the disqualified MLAs. While the issue did not figure in Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting which was scheduled last week itself, Chidambaram briefed on the committee decision to three senior Union ministers from Karnataka—S M Krishna, M Veerappa Moily and Mallikarjun Kharge. Krishna had to leave the meeting after a short while as he was called in by the prime minister to brief him on the United Nations’ Security Council seat, which India won on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, Moily, who had been vocal in supporting the governor, and AICC general secretary in charge of Karnataka Ghulam Nabi Azad, met Sonia Gandhi but refused to disclose the details of the meeting.
A Congress leader privy to the party decision, described that the governor was being “needlessly vocal” and the party felt the letter to the Assembly speaker was a “blunder” he committed which brought down the image of his office as it received rebuff from the speaker.
This leader, who did not want to be quoted, said the governor has embarrassed the party as the Congress had always maintained that it would not destabilise the BJP government and that if at all it fell, it would be on its own follies. The AICC leadership, he said, was not even in favour of the floor test by the chief minister. “However, now, the BJP which was involved in a series of crimes, will cover itself because of the bungling of the governor. In the process, the Congress image has taken a beating,” the leader added.