New Delhi, May 17: Stepping up its campaign against Governor H R Bhardwaj, the BJP today paraded its MLAs from Karnataka before President Pratibha Patil seeking rejection of his recommendation for imposition of President's rule and demanded his immediate recall.
However, an unfazed Bhardwaj, whose recommendation has not found favour with the Centre, hit back saying Constitutional mechanism has broken down in the state because of the collusion between the Speaker and the Chief Minister that led to disqualification of rebel MLAs.
Led by party President Nitin Gadkari and other central leaders including Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj, Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and 114 other MLAs presented themselves before the President and handed over a memorandum containing their demands.
“We met the President and demanded that she give us protection. We asked her that no action should be taken on the report submitted by the Governor who has recommended President's Rule in the state. President's Rule should not be imposed in the state,” Gadkari said after the meeting.
He maintained that since the President is the guardian of the Constitution, the BJP decided to take the issue to her. Gadkari said he had apprised Patil of the Governor's actions and how he had again recommended President's Rule in Karnataka though the government had a majority.
“Since he has time and again acted against the Constitution he should be called back. We told the President that she should exercise the powers she has to recall the Governor,” Gadkari said.
BJP claims to have the support of 121 MLAs in the 224-member Karnataka Assembly. Of these, 114 were present today while five had reportedly sent letters of support to Yeddyurappa. One BJP MLAs is travelling abroad and another could not be present as he has undergone a heart surgery. “The strength of the government should be tested on the floor of the House. The attitude of the Governor is undemocratic,” Gadkari said.
The President heard them patiently and promised to look into the matter, sources said.
An NDA delegation, led by senior BJP leader L K Advani, had yesterday called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to demand initiation of the process for removal of the Governor.
In Bangalore, Bhardwaj rejected as “baseless” the allegations that he recommended President's rule on the ground that the Government had lost majority.
“First of all an impression is being created that despite the Government enjoying the support of the majority of the members of the Legislative Assembly, Governor submitted the report for invoking the provisions of Article 356 (1) of the Constitution on the grounds that the Government lost the majority. This is completely baseless”, a Raj Bhavan communique said.
Bhardwaj said Constitutional mechanism broke down due to tampering with the composition of the Legislative Assembly in an “unconstitutional manner”, an obvious reference to the disqualification of 16 MLAs by Speaker K G Bopaiah on October 10 last ahead of the trust vote faced by Yeddyurappa which has now been quashed by Supreme Court.
Bhardwaj in a letter to the Speaker ahead of the legislature session had advised him to maintain status quo on composition and character of the assembly. Bopaiah had taken exception to this saying it was an interference by the Governor in discharge of his duties and went ahead with his order disqualifying 16 MLAs.
“The intervention of the Article 356 (1) of the Constitution is called for whenever there is breakdown of constitutional mechanism in the state,” Bhardwaj said defending his May 15 special report to the Centre recommending dismissal of the BJP Government.
The breakdown of constitutional mechanism also can occur in several other ways, he noted. “However in the instant case, though the origins of the breakdown can be traced to the question of support enjoyed by the Government, the actual breakdown is due to tampering with the composition of the Assembly in unconstitutional manner.”
“The Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly in collusion with the Chief Minister has distorted the character and composition of the Assembly for extraneous reasons on 10th October 2010, by disqualifying 16 members of the Assembly just hours before the crucial floor test scheduled for 11-10-2010”, he said.
The statement said the Governor recommended President's Rule after examining the apex court judgement and its implications and the various other developments in the recent months.
In the memorandum submitted to Patil in Delhi, the BJP said Bhardwaj's conduct as Governor has been unconstitutional and taken a confrontational stand against the Yeddyurappa regime.
“Since the day of being sworn in as Governor, Bhardwaj has converted the Raj Bhavan into a political weapon for harassing the state government. He has been acting in a partisan manner,” the party said.
It accused him of making public statements criticising the functioning of the government, Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues.
“The Governor has stated publicly that he is first and foremost a Congressman,” BJP said.
The memorandum alleges that Bhardwaj has made “irresponsible statements” on illegal mining, attack on churches, appointment of Justice B Padmaraj Commission for investigating land scams and is holding assent to several pending bills. PTI