Why did Anglo-Indian MLA issue enter Supreme Court before BSY floor test?


Ever since the Karnataka Assembly Elections results were announced on May 15, the State has seen high political drama about who would form the next government. With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) short of nine votes for simple majority on the floor of the House, where it has to prove its majority on May 19th, every vote becomes important. Though the Governor of Karnataka gave Yeddyurappa 15 days to prove his majority, the Supreme Court stepped in on May 18th and directed a floor test for the BJP to prove their majority on Saturday reducing the grace period awarded.

Among the multiple directives given by the Supreme Court, a particular one has caught the attention of political pundits: The court directed the government not to nominate an Anglo Indian MLA. Under Article 33 of the Constitution of India, every state in the country is legally bound to nominate one MLA from the community to the Assembly.

This tiny minority community suddenly became very important as the BJP government went on a wooing drive of the community. “I can confirm that at least a couple of our members were approached by the BJP with offers for the MLAship,” said Barry O Brien, President in Chief of the All India Anglo Indian Association confirmed to Citizen Matters.

The Association, however, in a bid to stay apolitical, wrote to the Governor of Karnataka on May 16th, asking him not to nominate an MLA from the community.

The letter read: “Sir, we implore you to protect our constitutional rights by not allowing any political party or group to use this nomination to seek political advantage for its own benefit or gain… We urge you, Sir, to nominate a person from our community only after the political process of installing a government is completed after the floor test.”

However, with no response to their letter, the Association filed a writ in the Supreme Court repeating this demand that an MLA representing the community should not be nominated till the time the floor test is completed. This was taken as an impleading application, in the ongoing case between G Parameshwar and Union of India regarding the floor test for the new government in Karnataka.

The  nominated Anglo Indian MLA from Karnataka for the 2013-18 term was Vinisha Nero. While a few media outlets reported that she was renominated by the Yeddyurappa Government, she denied these reports. “I have not been renominated to the Karnataka Assembly,” Nero confirmed to Citizen Matters when we contacted her over telephone.

The situation is somewhat similar to what happened in Jharkhand in 2005. Shibu Soren from Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) was asked to prove his majority on the floor of the house and the nomination of the Anglo Indian MLA was played out to the gallery, while the community did not want to get involved.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had emerged as the single largest party with 30 of the 81 seats plus 6 more from its ally Janata Dal(U). JMM got 17 seats. The alliance was short of 6 seats to cross the halfway mark of 41. An Anglo-Indian MLA was nominated, adding one more vote to BJP’s kitty. The JMM along with the Congress and the RJD had 32 seats. In this case, the BJP won the vote of confidence. In Karnataka, the Anglo-Indian community went before the court and successfully stopped the governor from nominating one, even as efforts were underway to nominate one.

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About Manasi Paresh Kumar 106 Articles
Manasi Paresh Kumar was Engagement Editor for Bengaluru Citizen Matters.