The judgment of the third judge of the Karnataka High Court has offered a new lifeline to the BJP government led by Yeddyurappa, which is really testing the limits of the proverbial cat’s nine lives. Justice V G Sabhahit has concurred with Chief Justice J S Khehar that the Speaker’s action in disqualifying the 11 BJP MLAs was valid and in accordance with the Constitution. With the majority judgment in favour of the government, the disqualification is now a mere formality, though the aggrieved MLAs have the option of approaching the Supreme Court.
The MLAs’ contention that they had not left the party and their ‘fight’ was only against a ‘corrupt’ government has been effectively demolished. The court has clearly held that the withdrawal of support to the government is not a mere act of ‘dissent’ and its acceptance would defeat the very objective of the Anti-Defection Act.
Considering that these MLAs elected on the BJP ticket had acted at the behest of outside forces allegedly for a huge personal consideration, the attempt to give their rebellion a moral foothold, is not only laughable, but highly despicable.
Their conduct throughout the crisis showed that they cared two hoots for the party which put them up for election and the people who elected them. Instead of being concerned about serving the constituents, they were acting like mercenaries whose only objective was personal aggrandisement. In their blind search for power and pelf, they were making a mockery of the electoral process and the democracy itself.
By upholding their disqualification, the court has tried to restore sanity and belief in the rule of law. The Yeddyurappa government may have survived for the time being, but the methods it adopted to hang on to power, have clearly dented its image and credibility. Having cynically initiated the defection game to consolidate his party’s position, Yeddyurappa sermonising now that the court order “has come as a warning bell to those who indulge in defection,” is akin to devil quoting the scriptures.
The BJP will do well to understand that the opposition’s tactic of luring its MLAs was the direct result of its own machinations in luring the Congress and the JD(S) MLAs. The Karnataka experience should hopefully result in all parties accepting that the Anti-Defection Act needs further tightening so that everyone respects the rules of the game and there is no tampering with the people’s mandate.