New Delhi: India’s main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on Tuesday escalated attacks against Karnataka governor H.R. Bhardwaj and met President Pratibha Patil to demand that she reject the governor’s recommendation for Central rule in the BJP-governed state.
This was the BJP’s second attempt in two days to put pressure on the Congress-led Union government for ensuring the survival of its first government in southern India.
A BJP delegation comprising party president Nitin Gadkari, Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and leaders of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha met Patil along with BJP legislators from Karnataka to show that the government enjoyed a majority in the state assembly.
“We met the President to discuss the crisis in Karnataka,” Gadkari said. “The government has a majority in the House, but despite that the governor in an undemocratic and unconstitutional move wrote to the President recommending the dismissal of the government. We requested the President to reject the report.”
The governor, in a statement, said an “impression is being created that despite the government enjoying the support of the majority of the members of the legislative assembly, the governor submitted the report for invoking the provisions of Article 356 (1) of the Constitution on the grounds that the government lost the majority. This is completely baseless.”
Bhardwaj had sent a report to Patil on Sunday advising that President’s rule be imposed in Karnataka, after the Supreme Court last week quashed the disqualification of 11 BJP and five independent legislators in October. The disqualification had then helped the BJP government survive two floor tests.
Gadkari said the Karnataka government enjoys the support of 122 lawmakers in the 224-member assembly.
The governor “is virtually acting as an opposition leader and making all attempts to dilute the democratically elected government,” said a memorandum the BJP submitted.
“Everyone knows we have a majority in the state assembly but still the governor recommended President’s rule... The Centre should recall H.R. Bhardwaj,” Yeddyurappa said after meeting Patil.
An analyst said the BJP is putting pressure on the Union government realizing that the stakes are high.
“When the BJP got wind of a possible move by the governor, they did a pre-emptive strike and made it clear that they will not tolerate any attempt to remove their only government in the south,” said Balveer Arora, former head of political science department, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Senior leaders of the BJP as well as some of their allies met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday to demand that Bhardwaj be removed from his post. Mint reported on Tuesday that the Centre was unlikely to act on the governor’s recommendation.
Bhardwaj had recommended President’s rule in Karnataka last year as well after 16 lawmakers decided to withdraw support to the BJP government.
PTI contributed to this story.