Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala on Wednesday (July 24) nominated five MLCs to the state legislative council after holding a meeting with Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa.
Of the five, three were political appointees, one of them was a social activist, and another was an academician, which was in contravention of Article 171(5) of the Indian Constitution.
According to Article 171(5), the members nominated by the Governor shall be those who have special knowledge or practical experience in literature, science, art, co-operative movement, and social service. However, over the years, various political parties ruling the states have misused the provision to bring in people close to them to positions of power.
In the current scenario, the governor nominated H. Vishwanath, who joined the BJP last year and lost the by-elections. However, he got into the Legislative Council since B.S. Yediyurappa promised him a plum post for switching over to his party.
Similar is the case with C.P. Yogeshwara, who the party rewarded for playing an instrumental role in managing the rebel MLAs who eventually led to the fall of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government.
Yet another example was Bharathi Shetty, BJP’s women’s wing leader in coastal Karnataka.
Last month, M.T.B. Nagaraj, a rebel BJP leader who lost the bypolls, was chosen to be part of the council in a similar manner.
Only the appointment of Shantharam Budna Siddi, a 55-year-old African-origin member from the Siddi tribe, and that of Dr Talwar Sabanna, a social activist are as per norms. The BJP is going to town with the nomination of Siddi since it has been long overdue and also because he is the first from the community to receive political representation.
Over the years, the Karnataka Legislative Council had film personalities and theatre personalities like Thara Anooradha, Aarathi, Ananth Nag, Jaggesh, Srinath, novelist and poet Chandrashekar Khambar, and singer Gangubai Hanagal, who played an instrumental role in debates.
Recently, in Maharashtra, CM Uddhav Thackeray was to be elected to the Legislative House within six months of attaining the post. The state cabinet had initially recommended that Thackeray be nominated by the Governor to the Council from his quota. However, the governor refused twice.
Thackeray faced a constitutional crisis and at one point, even offered to resign as Chief Minister. Later, however, he urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and after much hassle, the Governor announced the decision to hold Council elections. The Congress withdrew one of its candidates following the announcement to make way for Thackeray to enter the Council and retain his post as CM.
Political observer Narandra Pani says the nominations were largely misused, and even those getting elected from the creative field were not performing any better. He also compared it with Members of Parliament (MPs) getting nominated by the President in a similar fashion.
“Barring a few, many under performed during their tenure as House members. Neither did they enhance the quality of the debate relating to their subject, nor did they add value to their community. People like M S Swaminathan are an exception,” he added.
For instance, cricketer Sachin Tendukar always lost the opportunity to get elected to the Maharashtra Council as the appointments were largely political. But the Centre, under the Congress rule in 2012, created an opportunity for him, with the President nominating him to the Parliament.
However, Sachin and Rekha were on the list of underperformers in the Parliament. Both Sachin and Rekha had less than 10 percent attendance in the Parliament and did not participate in any debates.
“In the US, people playing basketball are in the forefront fighting for ‘Black lives matter’ campaign. But we do see such strong participation or voicing of opinions on local issues here from those creative persons getting nominated to the Parliament or state Councils?” Pani questioned.