Hon'ble exit

The resignation of Housing and Muzrai Minister V Somanna is welcome. The exit from the ministry has come rather late as he had lost the Assembly by-election he contested from Bangalore’s Govindrajnagar constituency on a good 10 days ago, on Aug 21. There may be a politically flawed legalistic argument in favour of his continuation in the Yeddyurappa ministry. He joined the ministry only in June and he has nearly another four months’ time to become a member of the legislature. The Constitution provides that a minister, who is not a member of either House of the state legislature at the time of becoming a minister, has six months’ time to become a member of the legislature. For the last 10 days, Somanna might have leaned on this constitutional provision to delay the inevitable but in the process he has turned a blind eye to a well-established parliamentary convention.
 
The convention requires an incumbent minister losing an election/by-election to step down from the ministerial position in deference to the people’s mandate. That is the right thing to do in a democracy. Indeed, the constitutional provision allowing six months’ time period for a non-member to become a member is envisaged merely to facilitate the incumbent minister to contest a by-election and become a member of the legislature to, so-to-say, confirm his position in the ministry. Therefore, in the wake of his by-election defeat, it had become incumbent on Somanna’s part to step down. It was needless on his part to prevaricate on the resignation.

 

By delaying the resignation, he had put enormous pressure on Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and the ruling BJP leadership. The onus was on them to enforce adherence to the parliamentary convention. The convention, however, doesn’t forbid Somanna from becoming a minister in future. But political morality would demand that he first enters the state legislature beforehand. Somanna is not the only person whose continuance in the Yeddyurappa ministry has become untenable. There is Social Welfare Minister D Sudhakar who too is disregarding another well-established parliamentary convention that requires a minister charge-sheeted in irregularities to step down to facilitate free-and-fair inquiry and trial. There are indications that he too might take the cue from Somanna and quit the ministry. Sooner he does that the better.

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