The Indian National Congress (INC) moved the Supreme Court against the Goa Governor’s decision to invite the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form the next government in the state.
The recent state election in Goa ended up as a hung Assembly. The 40-member Assembly was divided between 17 INC members and 13 BJP members, and the rest going to other parties and independents.
The INC’s argument
The INC alleged that the Governor’s move is against the “established constitutional practice” of inviting the single-largest party in a hung Assembly before any other party.
Additionally, the BJP’s swift moves to win the required seats to gain a majority irked INC legislators, who questioned the pace of the party’s state leaders.
The BJP’s argument
Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley said, “The Congress did not even submit a claim to the Governor.” However, INC leader Digvijaya Singh said that the Congress wrote to the Governor on Sunday, asking for the chance to prove its majority, but was not granted an appointment.
BJP acted swiftly to get the required numbers
Soon after the results were announced, the BJP, led by former Minister of Defence Manohar Parrikar, announced that it had procured the required number of MLAs (21) to form the government in the state. The BJP moved swiftly to secure the support of regional parties Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Goa Forward and some Independent legislators. The two parties had three seats each while two independents backed the BJP. The MGP was an ally of the BJP; their partnership was cancelled just before the election.
By Sunday evening, the legislators met the Governor to stake claim to form the government.
The SC’s observations
Despite it being a holiday for the Court, Chief Justice JS Khehar agreed to set up a special bench to hear the case put forth by the INC.
Manohar Parrikar, who took oath as the new Chief Minister of Goa on Tuesday, must now take a trust vote on Thursday to prove he has a majority. The decision was ruled by the Supreme Court and was a big setback for the INC. “If you had the numbers, you would have held a dharna (protest) at the Governor’s house,” the Supreme Court said on Tuesday, adding that the Congress’ petition to judges also does not have evidence that it has the needed support.
In the hours before the trust vote, the BJP-led coalition was joined by another independent. The number of seats claimed by the coalition is now tentatively 22, out of the 40 seats in the Goa Assembly.
Presently, as things stand, Manohar Parrikar is slated to continue as CM of Goa, a BJP-led coalition is to govern the state, and Arun Jaitley has taken responsibility of the Defence Ministry, in addition to his current responsibilities as Minister of Finance and Minister of Corporate Affairs.