NEW DELHI -- In the wake of the Supreme Court deciding to hold a floor test in the Goa Assembly on 16 March that would zero in on the next Chief Minister of the state, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who assumed the additional charge of Defence Ministry as well today, took to Facebook to lambast the grand old party in its crusade of making the next government in the state.
"The Congress Party complains a bit too much [sic]. It accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of 'stealing' the mandate in Goa. It unsuccessfully petitioned before the Supreme Court. It attempted to raise issues in the Lok Sabha. What are the facts?" Jaitley's post said.
Jaitley also said that the Assembly Elections in Goa had produced an inconclusive verdict and there was a Hung Assembly, which definitely calls for post-poll alliances.
"Obviously in a Hung Assembly post-poll alliances will be formed. The BJP managed to form an alliance and presented to the Governor 21 out of 40 MLAs. They appeared before the Governor in person and submitted a letter of support," he added.
The new Union Defence Minister, by virtue of Manohar Parrikar's ascension as the Chief Ministerial candidate for Goa, asserted that the Congress had not even submitted a claim to the Governor. It had only the support of 17 MLAs.
"The Congress Party protested at the Governor's decision to invite Mr. Manohar Parrikar to form the Government with support of 21 out of 40 MLAs and described it as 'a murder of democracy. In the face of claim of these 21 MLAs led by Mr. Manohar Parrikar, the Governor could not have invited the minority of 17 MLAs to form the Government," he said.
He further enlisted the several precedents which might have supported the decision of the Governor.
"Firstly, in 2005, BJP won 30 out of 81 seats in Jharkhand. The JMM leader Shri Shibu Soren with a support of 17 MLAs of his Party plus others was invited to form the Government," he said.
"In J&K 2002, the National Conference won 28 MLAs but the Governor invited the PDP & Congress Combination of 15 + 21 MLAs to form the Government."
"In 2013 the BJP won 31 seats in Delhi, but the AAP with 28 MLAs with support of Congress was invited to form the Government.
There are other precedents on the same lines available in 1952 (Madras), 1967 (Rajasthan) and 1982 (Haryana)."
"The debate between the largest single party lacking majority versus a combination of parties constituting a majority was answered by the former President Shri KR Narayanan in his communique in March, 1988 when he invited Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee to form the Government," he added.
Jaitley added the President had said "when no party or pre-election alliance of parties is in a clear majority, the Head of State has in India or elsewhere, given the first opportunity to the leader of the party or combination of parties that has won largest number of seats subject to the Prime Ministers so appointed obtaining majority support on the floor of the house within a stipulated time."
"This procedure is not, however, all time formula because situations can arise where MPs not belonging to the single largest party or combination can, as a collective entity, out-number the single largest claimant. The President's choice of Prime Minister is pivoted on the would be Prime Minister's claim of commanding majority support," he added.
"The Governor in Goa had only one claim of 21 MLAs out of 40 elected MLAs with Shri Manohar Parrikar as their leader. The 17 MLAs of Congress did not even make a claim nor elected their leader. How could the Congress ever be invited to form the Government?" he questioned.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court refused to stay the swearing-in of former defence minister Manohar Parrikar as the Goa Chief Minister and ordered a floor test in the state assembly on March 16 at 11 a.m.
Parrikar's swearing-in ceremony will go as per schedule today.
This development came after the Congress moved the apex court challenging the scheduled swearing-in of Parrikar.
During the hearing, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Congress, alleged that the BJP was indulging in horse-trading and violating the established constitutional practices.
He asserted that the Congress was not even consulted once on the formation of next government in the state.
The Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) J.S. Khehar, observed that numbers should determine the single largest party in the state.
The apex court further told the Congress that it should have gone to Goa Governor Mridula Sinha rather than raising the matter before the judiciary.
Senior advocate Harish Salve represented the Central Government during the hearing in the apex court, which ordered a floor test.
Governor Sinha had invited Parrikar to form the next government in the coastal state after he submitted a letter of support of 21 legislators.
Three MLAs of the Goa Forward Party, three of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and two Independents have pledged their support to Parrikar.
The BJP, which won 13 seats in the 40-member Goa Assembly, managed to garner support from other parties and Independents to attain majority under Parrikar.
The Congress won 17 seats in the recently concluded polls.
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