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Congress leader and senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi has been at the centre of a legal and a political battle that ensued in Karnataka after the poll results delivered a fractured verdict on 15 May.
In an exclusive conversation with The Quint’s Editorial Director Sanjay Pugalia, Singhvi spoke about the midnight hearing at the Supreme Court, the precedent it set and the road ahead for the Congress in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
On the Midnight Petiton
Referring to Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala’s decision of inviting Bharatiya Janata Party’s BS Yeddyurappa to form the government despite a lack of majority, Singhvi said:
You keep calling it our midnight drama when in fact it was the BJP’s own doing as the governor announced his decision at 9:30 pm and 30 seconds later, Yeddyurappa, who had been planning to hold the swearing-in ceremony at 12:30 pm next morning, suddenly changed his mind and advanced the time to 9:30 am instead after receiving the letter.
“By 8:30-9:00 pm we had an inkling that the governor was going to invite somebody soon to form government but it was not going to be us. So when the letter of invitation came, the petition was redrafted for the fourth time,” Singhvi added.
On ‘Strategic Win’ in Karnataka
Alluding to the Bommai, Punchhi and Rameshwar Prasad judgments, Singhvi went on to say, “The fundamental of an alliance is based on whether it is done before or after the election but to assume that it is unlawful is to brazenly reject the five judgements.”
On Rahul Gandhi’s Role in Elections
On being asked about how the Congress, previously deemed a “lazy party”, anticipated and prepared for the outcome in Karnataka, Singhvi said ‘lazy’ was an unfair adjective for the Congress as the the party had won several Assembly elections between 2004-2014.
He described Rahul Gandhi’s style of working swift and fresh, further adding that “unlike other states, we made a swift move in Karnataka”.
He went on to say, “I have often complained about it myself that after taking a decision, Congress overrules it with a second decision and then a fourth decision. But with Rahul, after a decision is taken, it is implemented swiftly”.
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Was Vala Right to Invite Yeddyurappa?
Speaking of the governor’s role in Karnataka elections, Singhvi said, “It is wrongful to assume that the governor will be the final person to judge who can form a stable government in case of a majority”.
“Take this for example, that if one group is short of one vote and the governor is of the opinion that this group can form a stable government, he can’t invite that group, he’ll have invite the one which has the majority mark,” Singhvi added.
Congress’ Strategies in 2019 Elections
Singhvi was of the view that the BJP is only successful when the anti-BJP votes get divided. Alluding to the Karnataka elections he said, “You have seen the proof of it with Congress whose vote share has been higher than the BJP’s this time as well”.
When asked about the Congress’ strategies for the upcoming elections in the non-BJP states of West Bengal, Orissa, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh, Singhvi said the same formula cannot be applied to all states.
The alliances don’t happen abruptly, it begins four to six months before the elections. This decision is state-specific.
“Some new measures are being taken for booth management you will see the results. There are differences between the members of BJP and even the Congress but take our word that we will fight together like a well-oiled machine in these states,” he said.
On Gujarat Elections
Singhvi maintained that the Modi wave is wavering as his rhetoric is facing the law of diminishing marginal utility.
“Where do you see the wave? Sure he delivers speeches. The law of diminishing returns come into play. The jumla that would sell like hot cakes are now making people suspicious,” Singhvi said.