Trying to be more loyal than the king has its own perils as Karnataka governor HR Bhardwaj’s experience suggests. It is difficult to ascertain what is driving him to almost singlehandedly carry out a campaign to oust Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa when even the Centre does not seem in a mood to oblige him. This is clear from the opaque statements by the Centre that it will evaluate his report recommending dismissal of the state government and let things proceed through the proper channels. The earlier disqualification of 11 rebels MLAs by the assembly speaker has been quashed by the Supreme Court. They have pledged allegiance to the Yeddyurappa government, which now has teetering on the brink a comfortable majority of 120 in the 224-member House.
The BJP is naturally up in arms at what is being seen as partisan politics on the part of the governor who has been snapping at the heels of the state government for a long time. But Mr Bhardwaj, as a former law minister, must know that in the SR Bommai case the Supreme Court had stipulated that the state government can’t be dismissed without a floor test, something that the chief minister will pass with flying colours. At a time when the Congress is in a fairly good position after the assembly elections, it did not really need to give the BJP reason to breathe fire and brimstone. Independent jurists too feel that Mr Bhardwaj is skating on the wrong side of constitutional propriety in going after the state government. In fact, many of his opponents feel that he is acting as an agent of the UPA government to the detriment of the latter. A few months ago, the Yeddyurappa government was on the ropes following allegations of corruption. Today, thanks to Mr Bhardwaj’s ill-advised moves, the chief minister has been able to cast himself as being more sinned against than sinning.
Mr Bhardwaj’s conduct is bound to raise the issue of partisanship of governors who formerly owed allegiance to one or other political party. Though they are expected to rise above partisan politics, all too often old habits die hard or they are used to settle political scores. Which brings into disrepute an institution which many feel has outlived its shelf life. However, the allegations of corruption among certain sections of the Karnataka government are serious and this turn of events should not be an excuse to let things drag. Armed with a new lease of political life, at least for the moment, it will win Mr Yeddyurappa political brownie points if he can be seen as non-partisan in dealing with his own flock, much in the manner that he had asked Mr Bhardwaj to do.