Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Confidence vote is not the issue. The issue is locus standi. Unfortunately Orissa governor has failed to understand this and hence, has been jumbling up continuance of Navin Patnaik in the Chief Minister post with confidence vote in the Assembly.
Everybody who puts premium on democracy must look at the issue with due diligence and vigilance.
At the crux of the issue stands collapse of the BJP-BJD alliance that had sought for and obtained peoples’ mandate to continue in power in the last elections. They had coalesced on common agenda before nominations were called for and had fought the election as a coalition and won the mandate and therefore, on intimation from the Election Commission as on results of the election, the Governor had appointed the leader of that coalition as the Chief Minister. Navin became the Chief Minister, because he was the authorized leader of the coalition.
When the coalition collapsed, Navin’s locus standi as leader of the coalition collapsed. The Governor knows this, because the BJP segment of the coalition has immediately after termination of the coalition informed him as a body on records.
After knowing of this, the Governor should have asked Navin to show if he still was heading the coalition. Were Navin been able to show that, the Governor should have rejected the version of the BJP legislators and rightfully allowed the Government to continue as before with Navin as the CM.
This was quite possible.
Even a single BJP member like Mahesh Sahoo who has refused to go with the other legislators of BJP, could have been shown and treated as the rightful member of the BJP side of the coalition because he neither had been ousted by his party nor his party had officially withdrawn from the coalition.
Therefore there was every justification for the Governor to treat the version of Biswabhusan Harichandan at al as version of BJP dissidents and not of BJP proper, which had formed the alliance with BJD.
But the Governor did not do this.
He mistook the version of the BJP legislators as the version of BJP without verifying the truth from BJP headquarters, as admittedly it is a national party and not a party alone of the legislators who have parted with Navin. By calling the Assembly to take test of the CM’s strength, he mindlessly put the stamp of approval on death of the alliance in the terms of claim of the BJP legislators. And by agreeing to the test, Navin, still a political novice who depends on advice of a former bureaucrat, also admitted that the coalition had died.
In the circumstances, even though it should not have deteriorated to this stage, it has become the reality that the coalition of BJP and BJD has circumstantially and legally died. And has also died the locus standi of Navin Patnaik as leader of the coalition.
So the only legal position is that Navin has no locus standi to continue as the CM.
It is better for the Governor to understand this soft thread of law and it would be further better for him to desist from making farce of the Governor’s position by jumbling up Navin’s locus standi to continue as CM with confidence vote.
As in earlier discussions we have maintained, the only lawful step the Governor should now take is to ask Navin to resign and thereafter to request him to continue in office till a new CM takes over.
It would be absolutely derogative to democracy if he allows politically biased opinion of the Central Ministry that acts under the unconstitutional office of the UPA chairperson, override his gubernatorial prerogative, wisdom and impartiality.
So, we stress again, let the Governor first understand that he issue is not the issue of majority support behind Navin Patnaik, but is the issue of his locus standi after death of the coalition on which behalf he was made the CM.