Sunday, June 08, 2008

Confidence Vote and Governor's Address in Karnataka

Today's editorial 'Looking ahead in Karnataka' chastises the Yediyurappa dispensation in Karnataka for criticizing the Governor's stipulation to prove his majority before asking him to address the legislature. This is what it says:

After having secured the backing of six independents, the Bharatiya Janata Party government headed by B.S. Yeddyurappa was assured of majority support in the 224-member Karnataka Assembly. Still Governor Rameshwar Thakur did the right thing in insisting that Mr. Yeddyurappa go through the motions of a confidence vote. The BJP, which ended up three seats short of a majority in the elections and acquired the support of independents later, should have been happy to move a con fidence vote and demonstrate its majority. Instead, the party needlessly kicked up a debate over whether the Governor should indeed have asked the new government to prove its majority on the floor of the Assembly before agreeing to address a joint session of the two Houses. A party that forms a government with support obtained post-election will necessarily have to prove its strength on the floor of the Assembly as soon as possible. Letters of support from the independents persuaded the Governor to call the BJP to form the government but these were no substitute for the demonstration of support through a floor test.

There is not a whole lot of basis for this view. Some governors have established this practice of asking governments to prove their majority. But the idea of a confidence vote as opposed to a 'no-confidence' motion has little support in parliamentary tradition. The practice does not exist in the UK based upon which our own system has been constructed. The governor's job is to call upon the person most likely to command majority support in the legislature to form the government and (with considerable justification) to provide the legislature an opportunity to challenge him if it so desires. But the burden of challenging the CM's government rests entirely on the legislature, not the governor. Especially when the government may not have the requisite numbers, it is perfectly legitimate to allow it to survive only because the opposition parties cannot agree upon a no-confidence motion to bring it down. Moreover, there is virtually no reliable precedent for a Governor to not address the legislature merely because his government has not proven its confidence. There is no basis for connecting two altogether separate events. The Hindu is therefore on weak ground here.


Shankar said...

This guy is perhaps from the old school when Marxists we not dictating.

Complex petroleum product pricing financial scene


The decision to go back on the planned decontrol of the oil sector is a monumental error of judgment

Pilid said...

Good article. Thanks for the link. But the time has passed for that to happen and it would now be politically unpalatable to even consider such a prospect. There are unfortunately no easy options at this time.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely. this is exacytly my sentiments. Also, in the recent past when the Goan assembly was in a worser crisis and the governor did perform according to the constitutional calling, Chindu went on to state that nothing wrong could be read in the governors act.


barbadkatte said...

Why would it be politically not possible to decontrol petrol /diesel pricing ? It is possible even now. Move petrol/diesel to the list of declared goods ( i.e Max sales tax/VAT = 4%), and allow the oil companies to charge market prices. The price of fuel will actually come down today( It may go up when crude goes higher ). The burden is borne by the state governments, most of which are non congress governments anyway. So from a Congress view point, they can go ahead with this without too much political cost.

Pilid said...

Thanks Thyagarajan for your comments.

Barbadkatte, I do not know what the exact tax rate on oil. If taxes are maxed out at 4%, does the Center gain or lose from this?

barbadkatte said...

Center does not lose any revenue. State governments lose tax revenues if sales tax ( or VAT ) is maxed at 4%

Anonymous said...

Most states today charge VAT at 20% and above. It makes enormous political sense to have them bring it down to 4%.

But at the end of the day, one should look at the economics too. By keeping the prices at artificilally low levls and subsidising the public expenditures, we are only helping the pil cartels into indiscriminatingly increasing the prices. The thing to do would be to titrate the demand to the supply (which is frozen at around 85 million barrels per day)and help bring down the prices. Today the oill price is only helping the oil manufacturing countries and USA which still continues its petro dollar regime.