“The court’s verdict is a well-deserved slap in the face of the Governor and has increased the people’s faith in the judiciary and democracy in the country…What a fine, swift, decisive victory for the moral standpoint: for democracy, for the Constitution.”
These are not my words, nor are they uttered in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Tuesday (which happened to be Constitution Day), bringing a dramatic denouement to the political battle in Maharashtra.
These are the remarks made by Atal Bihari Vajpayee on February 22, 1998, and one hopes today’s leaders and supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party pay serious attention to them. The BJP’s founder spoke these uncharacteristically harsh words after ending his fast-unto-death protest against the arbitrary sacking of Kalyan Singh’s government in Uttar Pradesh by the state’s then Governor, Romesh Bhandari, and the fraudulent manner in which he swore in Jagdambika Pal as the new Chief Minister. Vajpayee ended his fast after the Allahabad High Court swiftly struck down the Governor’s unlawful decision.
But do read those lines again. How uncannily apt they sound today in the context of the failed midnight coup in Maharashtra, plotted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah (who also happens to be the president of the ruling party), and executed by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari in Mumbai, with the connivance of none other than Ram Nath Kovind, the President of India.
The midnight coup failed only because of the Supreme Court’s courageous order asking the BJP’s scandalously installed chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to face the floor test the very next day – as against the 14 days granted by the Governor. More significantly, the top court also ruled that there would be no secret voting by MLAs and that the entire proceedings of the floor test should be telecast live. Under this court-mandated sunshine of transparency, the BJP’s dark conspiracy was fully exposed. The party could not repeat its ‘Operation Kamal’, code for purchasing opposition MLAs with huge sums of money, making them resign their seats in the legislative assembly, and thereby winning the floor test in an assembly of reduced effective strength. This corrupt operation had ensured the survival of BS Yediyurappa’s government in Karnataka. The BJP’s top leaders had reckoned the same would help Fadnavis and his new-found ally, Ajit Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party, win the floor test in Maharashtra