Social activist and senior journalist Flynn Remedios, today called for the immediate resignation of the Goa Governor, stating that the office of the Governor has been disgraced and the Governor of Goa Mridula Sinha has lost the confidence of the people.
“The Governor must read posts on various Goa-centric groups on social media. There are hundreds of posts and comments criticizing the action of the Governor and the people of Goa have clearly stated that they have lost faith in the office of the Governor. People have voiced their opinion in no uncertain terms that by acting in undue haste, the Governor has shown her partiality towards the BJP in Goa,” Remedios said.
Several eminent jurists in India have also criticized the action and undue haste shown by the Governor in appointing Manohar Parrikar the CM of Goa when he was neither an MLA or MP and his party was routed in the elections.
The BJP CM Laxmikant Parsekar and several cabinet ministers like Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar and Dayanand Mandrekar had lost the elections, yet the Governor invited Manohar Parrikar to form the government in undue haste, making out a clear case of partiality, Remedios opined.
The Governor has a very important constitutional duty to perform in the state. The Governor must not only be impartial, but must also be clearly seen by the people to be impartial. The actions and words and deeds of the Governor must clearly impress his or her impartiality on the people. In the case of Mridula Sinha this is completely lacking. The people feel the Governor has let down the people and the constitution of India, opined Remedios.
The Governor could have exhibited some restraint. She could have asked them to meet her the next day. It is not just the case of the Governor inviting Parriakar to form the government. It is the undue haste shown in the entire matter. From the time the BJP along with Vijai Sardesai of the GFP and the MGP met her, to the time when the office of the Governor issued the letter was less than two hours.
In two hours flat, late on a Sunday evening, when the next day is also a public holiday (Holi) the Governor invites Parrikar (who is technically still the defense minister and has not resigned or has not been relieved of his post by the Central Government), accepts their partly complete letters of support and anoints Parrikar the CM of Goa and then gives him 15 days to prove his majority. All this stinks.
We have started a campaign on Twitter with the hash tags #NotmyGovernor #MridulaSinhaRESIGN and request all Goans to share and tweet their reactions and comments with these hash tags, said Flynn Remedios.
Coming out strongly against the Supreme Court order giving Manohar Parrikar an opportunity to win the Goa trust vote on Thursday, eminent jurist Fali S Nariman Tuesday told the Indian Express that the Constitution as well as judicial precedents laid down that the Governor was obligated to call the leader of the single largest party first to form the government.
“My understanding of the law and the precedents (benches of nine and five judges respectively) is that the Governor of a state is under constitutional duty to first invite the leader of the single largest party to form the government,” Nariman told The Indian Express.
In Goa, the Congress emerged as the single largest party, winning 17 of the 40 seats in the Assembly. The BJP, on the other hand, won only 13 seats but staked claim to form the government with the support of eight other legislators.
After Parrikar submitted a list of 21 MLAs in his support, Governor Mridula Sinha issued a press release last Saturday, appointing Parrikar as the new Chief Minister and asked him to prove his majority in 15 days.
Chandrakant Kavlekar, Leader of the Congress Legislature Party, complained that he was not called even once by the Governor to form the government or to be consulted on formation of a new government despite his being the single largest party in the state.
On being asked what could be the fault with the Governor’s decision when the BJP staked claim before the Congress did, Nariman said the constitutional principle was not about who rushed first.
“The Governor, according to me, is under a constitutional duty to first invite the leader of the single largest party in the state, whether or not he or she is the first to stake claim.” Nariman also wondered why the Supreme Court order on Tuesday completely missed this point.
In his blog, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said that “in a hung Assembly, there will be post-poll alliances”. He also said that “in the face of claim of 21 MLAs led by Manohar Parrikar, Goa Governor couldn’t have invited minority of 17 Congress MLAs to form government”.
But Nariman disagreed. His bewilderment over the court order not recording anything about asking the leader of the single largest party can stem from a body of Constitution Bench judgments delivered by the Supreme Court over decades.
A five-judge Constitution Bench, in the Rameshwar Prasad Vs Union of India, 2006, explicitly endorsed the recommendations made by the R S Sarkaria Commission in its report on Centre-State relations, which had emphasised on impartiality of Governors and their role in upholding the constitutional mandate. The court, in its judgment, had rued that Raj Bhawans were becoming “extensions of party offices” and that political parties were not willing to accept reforms mooted by the Sarkaria Commission since “they want to take advantage of the situation at a particular time and cry foul when the situation does not seem favourable to them”.
Later, the M M Punchhi Commission also enumerated what it called “constitutional conventions” to be followed by the Governor in case of a hung Assembly. In case of a hung Assembly, the Punchhi Commission prescribed:
* The party or combination of parties which command the widest support in the Legislative Assembly should be called upon to form the government.
* If there is a pre-poll alliance or coalition, it should be treated as one political party and if such coalition obtains a majority, the leader of such coalition shall be called by the Governor to form the government.
* In case no party or pre-poll coalition has a clear majority, the Governor should select the Chief Minister in the order of preference indicated here — (a) the group of parties which had a pre-poll alliance commanding the largest number; (b) the largest single party staking claim to form the government with the support of others; (c) a post-electoral coalition with all partners joining the government; (d) a post-electoral alliance with some parties joining the government and the remaining including independents supporting the government from outside.
Another five-judge Bench, in the Nabam Rebia and Bamang Felix Vs Deputy Speaker, Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly & Others, endorsed the views of the Sarkaria and Punchhi Commissions regarding giving the Governor an independent discretion to take a call on the floor test when the government has lost confidence of the legislature.
A nine-judge Bench in the S R Bommai case had underlined the significance of a floor test when there are rival claims by two political groups, while laying down that the floor test must be conducted by the Governor as soon as possible.
As regards the weight of “constitutional convention”, a seven-judge bench, in Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association Vs Union of India, 1993, had held that “there is no distinction between the ‘constitutional law’ and an established ‘constitutional convention’ and both are binding in the field of their operation. “Once it is established to the satisfaction of the court that a particular convention exists and is operating then the convention becomes a part of the ‘constitutional law’ of the land and can be enforced in the like manner,” it had said.
This view was buttressed by another five-judge Bench judgment in Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association Vs Union of India, 2016 when the top court emphasised the legal sanctity of constitutional convention.
While moving for adoption of the Constitution of India, Dr Rajendra Prasad, in his speech as President of the Constituent Assembly, had said: “We have prepared a democratic Constitution. But successful working of democratic institutions requires in those who have to work them willingness to respect the viewpoints of others, capacity for compromise and accommodation. Many things which cannot be written in a Constitution are done by conventions. Let me hope that we shall show those capacities and develop those conventions. The way in which we have been able to draw this Constitution without taking recourse to voting and to divisions in lobbies strengthens that hope.”
Addressing the Conference of Governors in June 2005, then President of India Dr A P J Abdul Kalam had stressed the relevance of recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission and observed: “While there are many checks and balances provided by the Constitution, the office of the Governor has been bestowed with the independence to rise above day-to-day politics and override compulsions either emanating from the central system or the state system.”
In an interview to Rediff.com, Professor Prabhakar Timble who is the president of the Goa Forward Party, whose three MLAs went against his advice to support the Bharatiya Janata Party’s coalition government in Goa says there should be some code of conduct for governors too.
“The governor is not just a person sitting there with a mathematical calculator. In these circumstances people begin to perceive the governor as an agent of the central government and then it becomes the Constitutional and ethical duty of the governor to call the single largest party first.
In a no-holds-barred interview with Rediff.com‘s, Prasanna D Zore, Professor Timble questions Goa Governor Mridula Sinha’s decision to invite the BJP to form a government, exposes the Congress’ role in ditching his party before the polls, and justifies why he resigned as president of a party whose primary reason for existence was defeating the BJP.
Why did you resign as president of the Goa Forward Party when all your party MLAs decided to support Manohar Parrikar’s coalition government?
I resigned because I found the decision to go with the BJP abrupt and abrasive.
I also found it unprofessional because the mandate of the people is against the BJP.
Our campaign, from the day we formed the Goa Forward Party, was fought with the sole purpose of ousting the BJP from power.
So, our first choice should not be embracing the BJP or allowing it to come to power.
They (the BJP) have actually lost power in the state.
Finally, the BJP could cobble up the numbers — and I didn’t say it for the last two days and I am saying it now because I didn’t want to thrash my colleagues with harsh words before their swearing in took place — because this is the BJP’s political mafia raj at work.
They descend upon you, they pressurise you so much, and the GFP, which fought the elections on the plank of Goenkarpon (Goan-ness), finally succumbed to it.
When your sole objective was to defeat the BJP, how can one justify the GFP’s support to the same people who they wanted out of power in the state?
The fact is the Congress party ditched the GFP right from the beginning.
The day we formed the GFP, we staunchly said we wanted to dislodge the BJP from power and for that we wanted to have an alliance with the Congress.
Knowing that we were a new party, we knew we won’t be able to reach out in all the constituencies.
What changed so much after the elections that all your party MLAs have gone with the BJP?
The Dhavalikar brothers — Sudin and Dipak (of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party) — have always been with the party in power. They have been doing it since the last 20 years.
What happened to your party MLAs? Were there promises of cabinet berths by the BJP?
To be very frank, I don’t know.
We (the GFP and its MLAs) discussed the matter; the Congress had also engaged us in discussions, but the only thing that weighed against the Congress was they had ditched us before the elections.
They refused to ally with us although we begged with them for an alliance.
Then they put up a candidate against Vijai Sardesai in Fatorda violating all etiquette and understanding.
They put up a candidate against us in Saligaon and almost put up a candidate in Sivolim.
This proved they (the Congress) wanted us to fail because we were fighting against two BJP ministers and wanted to dislodge them.
First, you want us defeated and after the elections you come to seek our help.
Isn’t it ironic that a party which wanted to defeat the BJP in 2017 before the elections is now allying with them in a coalition?
I found it totally unprofessional and so I resigned.
My argument was the BJP cannot be our first choice.
Finally, a government had to be formed and the Congress should have been our natural choice.
The GFP MLAs were also in two minds, but Vijai Sardesai took the lead and clinched the deal with the BJP.
I knew I should not lead and defend such decisions. I wanted to be out of this muck.
Goenkarpon is not just taking oath in Konkani. Goenkarpon is something more bigger than such symbolism.
What do you mean by the BJP’s political mafia raj?
Whatever the BJP might say, the fact is they are gobbling up the MLAs.
According to me, once you got just 13 seats, you should have stayed out of power and allowed the other party to move first.
You (the BJP) should have staked a claim to form a government only after the Congress failure to do so.
Did the BJP lure your MLAs with the promise of cabinet berths?
To be honest, I don’t take the inducement of cabinet berths as a big issue.
The Congress too would have done the same thing.
That is natural because as a party we will have to protect our interests and you cannot get our support if you don’t protect our interests.
We can only take forward our agenda if our people get ministries.
What I mean by the BJP’s political mafia raj is they descend in such a way that they want to form the government anyhow and murder democracy, no matter what.
The governor (Goa Governor Mridula Sinha) has no options once numbers are put forth before her.
Once the BJP musters the support of 21 MLAs in a 40-member assembly, the governor has to call them.
The governor is not just a person sitting there with a mathematical calculator.
Once the governor knows that the single largest party has 17 MLAs, and once the governor knows that the ruling party has been defeated and the electorate has rejected the ruling party, and once the governor knows that the ruling party at the Centre also belongs to the BJP, the perception of the legislators — Independents and others belonging to the regional parties — is that somehow the BJP will always have an upper hand.
It is in these circumstances people begin to perceive the governor as an agent of the central government and then it becomes the Constitutional and ethical duty of the governor to call the single largest party first.
The governor should know that political loyalties and morals are flexible and since that is a bitter truth, the one who gets the call first (to form a government) gets an advantage.
Knowing that the BJP is in power at the Centre, to provide a level playing field, since the BJP is already rejected (in Goa), the governor should have called the single largest party, whoever it is, listened to them and earned their confidence and given them a fair chance to form the government.
But the governor did not do that at all. This is what I call the BJP’s political mafia raj.
The BJP is playing the same game in Manipur and other states too.
Somehow they (the BJP legislators) will come first, they will come like eagles, swoop down upon you and gobble up the numbers (MLAs).
They will come in a charter flight and gobble you up.
People then feel that the governor is their person and so the governor should abide by a code of conduct.
In this particular case, the BJP had the numbers (getting three MLAs each from the MGP and GFP, and two Independents) but the governor should have still called the single largest party first; at least (the governor) should have had a discussion with them first to build confidence and provide some level playing field.
Would your party MLAs have supported the Congress in forming the next government, had the governor asked the Congress to explore the opportunity of forming the next Goa government?
I don’t know, but had the governor asked the Congress first (to form a government) that would have given confidence to the newly elected legislators and Independent MLAs and probably why not we may (have joined the Congress).
Because that is also a factor weighing on in the minds of legislators. They know that the BJP is capable of bulldozing all the opponents with the help of the governor.
The governor should have created a confidence building exercise and given the first chance to the Congress. In case they had failed to muster the numbers, called in the BJP to do so.
If the ruling party had not been rejected, there would have been no issue at all.
The governor should be the guardian of democratic tradition.
The governor cannot sit there like an arithmetic teacher with a calculator in her hand.
How many years do you give this government? Will the Parrikar government last its full term?
Politically and strategically speaking, they should last up to 2019 when the next Lok Sabha elections will be due.
But the BJP will not keep quiet.
Knowing Amit Shah, knowing Parrikar, knowing their style of working, they will engineer a split in the Congress.
Finally, one must understand that the Congress MLAs are also hungry for power.
Parrikar told NDTV that he is not that kind of person, but admitted that Congress MLAs were sending messages to him.
If he were not that kind of a person, he should not have stepped into Goa in the first place to stake a claim to chief ministership with just 13 MLAs.
He could possibly do it because the BJP is in power at the Centre.
Can Parrikar answer if the BJP was not in power at the Centre, would he be in a position to gobble up Independents and MLAs from the MGP and GFP?
Parrikar that way is a professional liar, but people feel he is a Chanakya. You are leveraging your money and political muscle…
Are you saying there was inducement of power?
Cabinet berths are fine because the Congress too would have done the same thing.
Unless there are other factors involved (in the formation of a coalition government), I don’t think decisions can be taken this fast. I don’t have any proof of that though.
I was a part of the confabulations that went on when this decision was taken (by the GFP to support Parrikar) so I should have known it (if inducements were allegedly made).
Parrikar categorically stated in the NDTV interview that no money changed hands and the only condition put forth by the MGP and GFP was he should be the next chief minister…
Meanwhile, Governor Mridula Sinha defended her actions. Speaking to Mail Today from Panaji, Sinha said: ‘They (local Congress leaders) never called, nor did anyone come to meet me officially to stake claim for government formation.
‘They (Congress) only took time on Tuesday and came to meet me. But by then everything was decided according to the provision laid in the Indian Constitution.
‘I had invited the BJP-led coalition led by Manohar Parrikar to form the government as the latter had rightly done the prerequisites in the last 48 hours.’
A top Raj Bhavan source told Mail Today: ‘Even today, the Congress came without a formal application and a list of those supporting the party to form the government was still missing. Everything was verbal based on which their claims are redundant.’
The Governor clarified her stand: ‘I have done everything according to the constitutional provisions. There are provisions in the Constitution to allow a party with lesser seats, provided it is able to give the assurance of a stable coalition offering better governance.
‘Parrikar followed the right procedure, including parading the BJP and other coalition supporting MLAs on March 12, something no Congress leader did till Tuesday.’
WITH INPUTS FROM:
PRABHAKAR TIMBLE INTERVIEW: REDIFF.COM
FALI S NARIMAN QUOTES: INDIAN EXPRESS
MRIDULA SINHA QUOTES: INDIAN EXPRESS