How the governors violate the tradtions

Sarkaria Commission was set up in June 1983 by the central government of India. The Sarkaria Commission’s charterwas to examine the relationship and balance of power between state and central governments in the country and suggest changes within the framework of Constitution of India. [1] The Commission was so named as it was headed by Justice Ranjit Singh Sarkaria (Chairman of the commission), a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India. The other members of the committee were Shri B. Sivaraman (Cabinet Secretary), Dr S.R. Sen (former Executive Director of IBRD) and Rama Subramaniam (Member Secretary).

*The party or combination of parties that command the widest support in the Legislative Assembly should be called to form the government.

* The Governor’s task is to see that a government is formed — and not to try to form a government that will pursue policies that he approves.

* If no party has a majority, the Governor has to invite: a) a pre-poll alliance, b) the largest single party that is able to gain majority support, c) a post-election coalition that has the required members, d) a post-election coalition in which partners are willing to extend outside support.

The Commission recommended that the Chief Minister must seek a vote of confidence in the Assembly within 30 days of taking over. It also said the Governor should not risk determining the issue of majority support outside the Assembly, and that the prudent course would be to have the claims tested on the floor of the House.

Punchhi Commission

A Commission headed by former Chief Justice of India M M Punchhi was set up in April 2007 to take a fresh look at the roles and responsibilities of governments at various levels, and the relations between them. The Commission recommended that there should be clear guidelines for the appointment of Chief Ministers, so that there was some sort of regulation on the discretionary power of the Governor.

It said that a pre-poll alliance must be treated as one political party, and laid down the order of precedence that the Governor must follow in case of a hung House:

1- Group with the largest pre-poll alliance commanding the largest number;

2- Single largest party with support of others;

3- Post-electoral coalition with all parties joining the government;

4- Post-electoral alliance with some parties joining the government, and the remaining, including Independents, supporting from outside.

President Venkataraman decisions:

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In 1989 and 1991 no party could achieve the majority in the Lok Sabha elections. The President Venkataraman invited the parties according to form the government but he call them in the order of their strength in the Lok Sabha. In 1989 Rajiv Gandhi was the leader of the single largest party having 193 members in the Lok Sabha but he refused to form the government saying that the mandate was against him. The President Venkataraman called V.P Singh as he was the leader of the second largest party, the Janta Dal. BJP along with the left supported him and he formed the government.

In 1991 again, the Congress emerged as the single largest party but short of majority. Venkataraman invited P V Narasimha Rao, who had to prove his majority. Rao did so quite easily.

When President Shankar Dayal Sharma followed Venkataraman:


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In 1996 Shankar Dayal Sharma invited Atal Bihari Vajpayee as BJP emerged as the single largest party in the house. The total strenghth in the Lok Sabha was 535-members.Vajpayee had the support of 194 members but he had to surrendered against 177 members of the United Front and 136 of the Congress, Vajpayee had to quit within 13 days of having been sworn in.

When President K R Narayanan verified the letters of support before inviting Vajpayee:

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In 1998 Lok Sabha elections, once again no party had the absolute majority in the house. The President
K R Narayanan who was the first Dalit president in India,
The 1998 Lok Sabha elections, too, threw up a fractured verdict. President K R Narayanan invited Vajpayee but before this he verified the letters of the support of various parties.

When President A P J Adbul Kalam invited the Congress:

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In 2004, the NDA won 187 seats, and the Congress and its pre-poll allies, 216. Left parties, with 61 seats, gave letters of support to the Congress. President A P J Adbul Kalam invited the Congress.

When the governors decided not to follow the path shown by the former presidents:

Last year in Goa the Congress won 17 seats in the 40-member House, BJP fell victim of anti-incumbency factor and won only 13 seats in the assembly. But the saffron party managed to get supports of three members each of the Goa Forward Party and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, and three Independents. Governor Mridula Sinha decided not to invite Congress in spite of the fact that it was the single largest party in the house. Manohar Parrikar was called to form the government. The dejected Congress went to Supreme Court but the court declined to stay Parrikar’s swearing in, but asked him to take a floor test.

In Manipur Congress emerged as the single largest party as it won 28 of the 60 Assembly seats. The BJP got 21. But once again the BJP repeated the tricks played in Goa and managed to get support of four members each of the Naga People’s Front and National Peoples Party, and one from the Lok Janshakti Party. Governor Najma Heptulla invited BJP leader N Biren Singh to form the government.
Najma backed her decision and said that it was not “incumbent upon a Governor” to call the single largest party, rather, her “responsibility… is to see who has got the majority, who will be working for the interest of the state and have stability.

In Meghalaya, the BJP won only two seats and Congress won 21. But once again the saffron party dodged the Congress and brought together 34 MLAs — the National People’s Party of Conrad Sangma (19), United Democratic Party (6), People’s Democratic Front (4), Hill State People’s Democratic Party (2) and one Independent. The governor invited BJP and Congress was outmanoeuvered.