Terming the political crisis in Karnataka as a “clash” between two constitutional authorities,Law Minister M Veerappa Moily has said it was up to the “right-minded” people to decide who is right.
Moily,a former Karnataka Chief Minister,refused to get drawn into the debate over the role of Governor H R Bhardwaj,his predecessor in the Law Ministry.
When asked about the decision of Bhardwaj to ‘advise’ the Speaker to maintain the position of the legislative assembly when Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa was asked by the Governor to prove his majority,Moily said it was a not a transgression on the authority of the Speaker.
“It was an opinion….it is your perception (that it was a transgression).”
On being persisted,Moily told Karan Thapar on Devil’s Advocate: “It is a question of clash of two constitutional authorities — one the Governor and the other the Speaker. Who is right on this is a question people should decide…right-minded people should decide,not the interested party like the BJP.”
“As a Law Minister I cannot pass a value judgement…and in fact,whether the BJP has raised certain objections…yes they are the interested party. I don’t think we can take their suggestions as objective and impartial,” he said.
To a question on recalling Bhardwaj from Raj Bhawan,he said,”It is a constitutional process involved. Just because some opposition leaders want recall of the Governor…you know it’s not done,unless it is objectively based on merit.”
Asked whether the Governor should voluntarily step aside as he had become a figure of controversy,Moily said that question will not arise “in view of my first answer”.
Asked if he was ‘distancing’ himself from Bhardwaj,he said,”When certain issues are raised,defending or protecting will not come. Because it may be attributed to me that I am taking the side of Mr Bhardwaj because he happens to be in my party or my predecessor. It is not done like that….It will not even benefit Mr Bhardwaj even if he is on the right line.”
When the anchor persisted that Moily was deliberately avoiding a comment on the role of Bhardwaj,he said it was not the case.
“It is a question of assessing things on a correct perspective. And the stage has not come to me to assess because it has not reached that kind of a position where a Law Minister can offer his remarks,” Moily said.
On being pointed that the Governor had “no business” to write to the Speaker,Moily said the Speaker invoked his power under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) only on the day of the convening of the session.
“That’s why if the Governor feels,it is his judgement,and I cannot question his judgement. If I make an attempt to interpret his judgement,then I would be crossing the frontiers of my position as a Law Minister,” he said adding that “whether it is (Governor’s) business or not,it is up to the judiciary to decide. Not for me or you or any people to decide.”
On Governor addressing a press conference,he said there is one school of thought which says constitutional authority should speak less.
“But sometimes,the constitutional authorities are provoked to speak because sometimes his actions have been commented upon by interested parties. So it is ultimately for him to do that,” he said.
At the same time,the Law Minister said,a constitutional authority cannot be deaf,blind to happenings around. “He cannot isolate himself from what is happening in Karnataka.”
To a poser on BJP’s allegation that Raj Bhawan has become an epicentre of horse trading,he shot back saying the perspective of the people is the epicentre of destabilisation that lies in the BJP HQs here and also the CM’s residence itself….”a man who swears by sword,dies by sword. This is what has happened to BJP,” he said.
To a suggestion that Bhardwaj should be ‘dispensed with’ in the interest of democracy,he said,”It is up to the President of India as she is the constitutional authority.”
Putting records straight,Moily said “on one thing I must correct the record: There is nothing unconstitutional done by the Governor. You may say it is improper,you may say it is incorrect,you may say it is little excessive. But I don’t think,any way this action comes within the borderline of unconstitutional.”
But he hastened to add that he has never said that the Governor’s stand was improper or little excessive and he was merely referring to the statements of the BJP.
To a question on the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission recommendations on appointment of Governors,Moily said that part of the recommendation “to my understanding has not been agreed to by any government – whether the NDA or the UPA.”
He said there should be a consensus on ethics on the appointment of Governors.