BJP ‘s BS Yedyurappa was sworn in as the chief minister by Karnataka’s governor today, even though the party failed to clinch absolute majority and the Congress-JD(S) alliance had more numbers than them. The governor also gave Yedyurappa 15 days to prove majority on the floor of the Assembly. This new turn of events has turned the spotlight on 80-year-old Vajubhai Vala who was appointed as Karnataka’s governor in September 2014, a few months after Narendra Modi’s government came to power at the Centre.
Vala, as several newspapers pointed out, is ‘an old BJP hand’ and was a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for several years before he joined the Jan Sangh in 1971. Vala was also a member of Narendra Modi’s cabinet when the latter was the chief minister of Gujarat. He served as the finance minister twice during his stint with Modi’s cabinet between 1998 to 2012.
According to reports, during the 2002 Assembly polls in Gujarat, Vala vacated his constituency for Modi to contest from it. The Wire reports that in 2002, the BJP roped in Narendra Modi to be the face of the Assembly polls and also quash a rebellion brewing in the ranks of the party. Vala vacated his seat for Modi to take over and ever since is known to have been very close to the Prime Minister. Vala has also served as Gujarat’s state BJP president twice.
Besides being referred to as an old Modi loyalist, the Karnataka governor has a history of conflict with JD(S)’ chief HD Devegowda. Hindustan Times reports that in 1996, Deve Gowda, then the Prime Minister of India, advised the President to dissolve a BJP government in Gujarat shortly after it has passed the floor test in the Assembly. The BJP state president at that time — Vajubhai Vala — had accused the prime minister of ‘murdering the democracy’. Experts have observed that the tables have turned on Deve Gowda at present.
Hours after Vala invited Yedyurappa to form the government in Karnataka, Congress cried foul and accused him of being biased towards BJP. The Congress-JD(S) alliance challenged Vala’s decision in the Supreme Court late last night, but their pleas were rejected. Now, lawyer Ram Jethmalani has sought the CJI’s permission to intervene in the matter and challenge Vala’s decision to let Yedyurappa take oath as the chief minister of the state.