Although legally correct, the sanction for the prosecution of Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa given by Governor H.R. Bhardwaj will inevitably take on a political color. The two have been on a confrontationist course for the past few months with the Governor repeatedly pointing to allegations of corruption against the Chief Minister and some of his Cabinet colleagues, and the Chief Minister, in turn, accusing the Governor of betraying his bias and political affiliation to the Congress Party. The charges of corruption and nepotism against Yeddyurappa are serious, and none can fault the Governor for sanctioning prosecution. However, in the months leading up to this development, the Governor came through as a political agent of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government at the Center. It is one thing to turn the Raj Bhavan into a retreat for elderly or inconvenient politicians. It is quite another for the government at the Center to use it as a political stage for undermining state governments run by rival parties. Bhardwaj has often looked more the part of an Opposition leader than a constitutional head, with his politically-loaded barbs against the Yeddyurappa government. In the latest instance, he likened the ruling BJP making complaints against him to a “thief scolding the police.” In the context of his earlier statements against the state government, asking Yeddyu-rappa to take action against two of his Ministers and publicly talking about their alleged profiteering from illegal mining operations, the “thief” remark certainly raised serious doubts about his motives.
All this is not to suggest that Yeddyurappa is in the clear. He faces serious allegations of nepotism and corruption, and the proper way out for him would have been to step down and clear his name. Although the Governor is expected to act on the aid and advice of the Cabinet, on the issue of sanctioning prosecution of the Chief Minister he will have to take an independent decision based on the facts before him. Bhardwaj did just that. The Karnataka Cabinet’s resolution urging Bhardwaj not to sanction prosecution of Yeddyurappa has no leg to stand on. The Governor was certainly not bound by this resolution, and Yeddyurappa now has no choice but to face the legal consequences of his actions, which include wrongful de-notification and allotment of lands to family members. Institutional propriety is crucial and Governor Bhardwaj is guilty of crudely overreaching his constitutional role. But Chief Minister Yeddyurappa would do well to not take cover behind this impropriety. The legal process is the best and only way to redeem his reputation.
Courtesy: The Hindu