In Karnataka Power Struggle, Arun Jaitley Tweet Adds To Congress Ammo

BENGALURU:  As the BJP and its presumptive chief minister BS Yeddyurappa sprinted to Karnataka governor’s office to claim the invite to form the government, the Congress underlined that Governor Vajubhai Vala could only invite the Congress-JDS combine which had a “clear majority” to form the government.

The Congress backed up its claim, pointing to the governor’s invite to the BJP in Goa, Meghalaya and Manipur last year. For effect, the opposition also pulled out Union Minister Arun Jaitley’s tweet from 2017 where he had argued that the combination with majority support should get the first shot at power, not the largest single party.

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury tweeted a screenshot of Arun Jaitley’s old tweets, saying governors appointed by the BJP “didn’t invite the single largest party” in Goa, Manipur or Meghalaya. “Union ministers gave arguments supporting them. The precedent is there to follow, right?” he tweeted.

Priyanka Chaturvedi of the Congress put out a news item on the blog that Mr Jaitley had written after Goa, saying what was “constitutionally the right thing to do” in Goa should apply in Karnataka too.

But the Congress or the opposition parties weren’t the only ones digging out old tweets to make their point. Amit Malviya of the BJP put out Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweets from 2017 that cited Supreme Court judgments to argue that the largest single party should get the invite.

In the Supreme Court and outside, the Congress had then argued that the Goa governor should hand over the invite to form the government to the single largest party and not a post-poll alliance led by the BJP.

BJP president Amit Shah and PM Narendra Modi have not spoken on the BJP’s claim to form the government but only congratulated BJP workers in Karnataka for working hard for the unprecedented victory.

The BJP had emerged as the single largest party but at last count, was still short of majority by six-odd seats. The Congress, which had been outsmarted by the BJP in Goa and elsewhere, moved quickly and gave HD Kumaraswamy of the JDS its “unconditional” support to block the BJP from coming to power.

Standing in front of the cameras after their meeting with governor Vajubhai Vala today, the BJP delegation led by Mr Yeddyurappa said his party should be given the opportunity to form the government because it was the single largest party. He also ran down the Congress tying up with the JDS, calling it “backdoor politics” when the mandate was clearly for the BJP.

That claim is at variance with the stand that the BJP, and its most well-regarded lawyer and senior minister Arun Jaitley had taken last year.

In a Facebook post last year debunking the Congress claim that the BJP had stolen the mandate, Mr Jaitley had blamed the Congress of complaining “a bit too much” , arguing that it was obvious that post-poll alliances would be formed if the election threw up an “inconclusive verdict”.

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