Fear­ing an­other Goa, Cong drafted SC plea for largest party to be in­vited first

Changed Pe­ti­tion At Last Mo­ment After End­ing 2nd

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - FRONT PAGE - Dhanan­jay.Ma­ha­p­a­tra @times­group.com

urs of Thurs­day, after a dra­matic hear­ing that be­gan at 2.10am and stretched on for three-anda-half hours. A three-judge bench of Jus­tices A K Sikri, S A Bobde and Ashok Bhushan was asked by CJI Di­pak Misra to hear a joint pe­ti­tion filed by Con­gress and JD(S) to block gov­er­nor Va­jub­hai Vala’s in­vi­ta­tion to Yed­dyu­rappa to take first shot at gov­ern­ment for­ma­tion. The hastily cob­bled post-poll al­liance con­tended that it should have got the call since it had 115 mem­bers against BJP’s 104 in the House with an ef­fec­tive strength of 221(H D Ku­maraswamy won from two seats and can ex­er­cise only one vote in a trial of strength).

The SC’s will­ing­ness to be­gin hear­ing arguments well past mid­night earned it praise from the Con­gress for a change. How­ever, the bench ul­ti­mately de­cided not to stay the oath-tak­ing cer­e­mony, though it said it would hear the Con­gress-JD(S) le­gal chal­lenge to Vala’s de­ci­sion on Fri­day morn­ing. The bench also clearly said the le­gal­ity of the swear­ing-in would be sub­ject to its or­der on Fri­day.

Cru­cially, the judges will fo­cus on the two let­ters Yed­dyu­rappa wrote to the gov­er­nor on Tues­day and Wed­nes­day to in­sist that he be in­vited first to form the gov­ern­ment de­spite Con­gress-JD(S) claim­ing the sup­port of 11MLAs more than BJP. New Delhi: Be­hind the post­mid­night drama in the Supreme Court on Thurs­day lies the story of Con­gress’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to form the gov­ern­ment in Kar­nataka and its le­gal team’s readiness to tweak and re­cast its plea thrice over, in sync with the rapidly evolv­ing po­lit­i­cal sce­nario, be­fore fi­nally chal­leng­ing the gov­er­nor’s de­ci­sion to in­vite B S Yed­dyu­rappa to form the gov­ern­ment.

Be­fore the elec­tion re­sults were even de­clared, a ten­ta­tive draft pe­ti­tion had been pre­pared on the ba­sis of Con­gress’s hunch that it would emerge as the sin­gle largest party and could face a sit­u­a­tion akin to Goa, where BJP had quickly out­smarted Con­gress, the sin­gle-largest party, to cob­ble a post-poll coalition and steal a march to form the gov­ern­ment. Wiser from that experience, Con­gress’s le­gal team led by Ab­hishek Manu Singhvi had al­most fi­nalised a pe­ti­tion to be filed in the apex court seek­ing a di­rec­tion to the gov­er­nor to in­vite the sin­gle-largest party to form the gov­ern­ment.

Though the re­sults an­nounced on Tues­day sur­prised the party, the Singhvi-led le­gal team, com­pris­ing young guns De­va­datt Ka­mat, Ra­jesh Inam­dar, Javed Rehman, Aditya Bhat and Gau­tam Taluk­dar, quickly re­drafted and tweaked the pe­ti­tion to seek a di­rec­tion from the court to the gov­er­nor to in­vite the post-poll Con­gressJD(S) al­liance.

Con­gress’s think tank an­tic­i­pated that the gov­er­nor would delay invit­ing the com­bine, which has 116 MLAs, to help the B S Yed­dyu­rappa-led BJP to win over MLAs from ri­val par­ties with al­lure­ment.

—Rahul Gandhi,

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