Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala on Tuesday (April 20) chaired the all-party meeting to review the COVID-19 situation in the state.
The opposition Congress slammed the move and questioned the constitutional validity of the decision and said it violated the basic tenets of the Constitution.
At the meeting, Congress leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah said: “It is unconstitutional. The governor has no power to interfere in the administration of the state.”
Though he objected to the meeting, Siddaramaiah said he attended it due to the respect he had for the governor.
“I do not know whether CM BS Yediyurappa has discussed this with the advocate-general but as far as I can understand the governor cannot take any executive decisions and suggestions we give to him cannot be executed,” Siddaramaiah said.
The all-party meeting called by the government on April 18 was cancelled after the CM tested positive for COVID-19. The governor chaired the virtual meeting headed by former chief ministers, existing ministers, and opposition party leaders as Yediyurappa is undergoing treatment in a private hospital in Bengaluru.
The CM attended the meeting through video conference, but he did not chair it.
Yediyurappa holds the Bangalore Development portfolio, and has not appointed a full-time minister for Covid-19 management in the city. Though he tasked Revenue Minister R Ashoka, Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai, and Health Minister K Sudhakar to monitor the situation and handle the crisis, the decisions took a long time, critics argue.
“What does it indicate the governor calling an all-party meeting? Is there no elected government in the state? Is this part of a #BSYmuktaBJP campaign? Does the government have no courage to face the opposition?” the Karnataka Congress tweeted.
Home Minister BS Bommai defended the governor’s decision and said his role was to find a solution by bringing all the parties together.
“The PM has spoken with governors and has asked to hold talks with state governments and opposition parties to put a united fight against COVID-19. There’s nothing wrong with it,” the minister said.
Aam Aadmi Party Karnataka convenor Prithvi Reddy said it set a wrong precedent and sent the message that the public had lost confidence in the government.
At a time when the state is grappling with the shortage of oxygen cylinders, hospital beds, ventilators, remdesivir injections and ambulances, the governor’s intervention is being seen as a dilution of the state’s responsibility.
“If Governor Vajubhai Vala has lost confidence in the government led by Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, he would be well within his rights to recommend immediate imposition of President’s Rule in Karnataka,” Reddy said.