Opinion DC Comment 14 Mar 2017 Hasty move on Goa ch ...

Hasty move on Goa chief ministership

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Mar 14, 2017, 12:26 am IST
Updated Mar 14, 2017, 6:50 am IST
India has suffered far too many instances of democracy being hijacked as legislators bargain for power.
Manohar Parrikar. (Photo: PTI)
 Manohar Parrikar. (Photo: PTI)

The Goa Governor has served the state and nation with a fait accompli in appointing Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar as the chief minister and giving him a fortnight’s time to prove his majority. The provisions in the Constitution defining the crucial role of the Governor may have been given the go-by in the unseemly haste with which the decision was taken so soon after the results were announced in which the Congress finished as the single largest party with 17 seats in the House of 40 while BJP won only 13. The BJP may have acted quickly to cobble up superiority with the help of former allies, regional parties and Independents, but the ethos of democracy has been defiled once again. To arrive at a decision when not even considering the possible scenario of the single largest party being able to command the numbers to stake what could be the first legitimate claim in any hung assembly situation was palpably wrong.

The ethicality of usurping power when the public mandate seemed to go against the ruling party whose Chief Minister Lakshmikanth Parsekar as well as five of his ministers lost the ballot battle is questionable. The ground reality may be that Parrikar, a former Goan chief minister who had won the trust of the people, is so popular that he may be able to command the loyalty of sufficient MLAs. The question is should the Governor have simply gone with his claim instead of considering all probabilities, including the important one of seeking the views of the single largest party. Governors may claim certain discretionary powers. But this haste gives the Governor’s game away. In the most recent example of a Governor having to weigh the options came in the extraordinary situation in Tamil Nadu.

 

There the Governor used his discretion in waiting to assess the impact of developments and then did the right thing in calling the faction of the ruling party with the larger numbers to hold office. It is in not even taking the time to assess the possibilities that the Goa Governor has given short shrift to democratic values. The situation is similar in Manipur too where the split verdict has also placed Congress intriguingly close to the magic number, but could still be denied power as commercial realpolitik takes over and legislator loyalties are placed in the market even as defections and resignations are engineered. India has suffered far too many instances of democracy being hijacked as legislators bargain for power. However, it is in the irony of the timing of such marketplace-like events that becomes inescapable as the negotiations for power go on so soon after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that a new India was emerging and that the victor in the latest round of elections stood for all people and not only for those who voted BJP.

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