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Eyes on Raj Bhavan for next step

The focus has shifted to Raj Bhavan from 1 Aney Marg on Saturday evening soon after Nitish Kumar resigned from the chief ministerís post.

On Saturday afternoon, Nitish drove to Raj Bhavan to hand over his resignation and that of his council of ministers to Governor D.Y. Patil.

An official release issued by Raj Bhavan later said the governor had accepted the resignation and asked Nitish to continue in his post till alternative arrangement is made.

All eyes would be on the governorís next move as what he would do ó whether he would go by the book and invite the leader of largest legislature party in the Assembly or whether he would keep the Assembly under suspended animation and explore the possibility of government formation if no party is able to provide a government.

But constitutional and legal experts are of the view that the governor has several options, which he can exercise.

Subhash C. Kashyap, constitutional expert on parliamentary affairs and former Lok Sabha secretary-general, said the governor has few options before him.

ďAfter accepting the resignation, the governor would ask Nitish to continue till an alternative arrangement is made and in between, the governor would explore the possibility of alternate government formation,Ē Kashyap told The Telegraph over phone.

He said the governor might ask the single largest partyís legislature party leader to form the government and prove his majority on the floor of the House.

Nitish, who made it clear that he has not recommended the dissolution of the Assembly, said he had convened a meeting of JD(U) legislature party at 4pm on Sunday to elect its new leader.

In order to avoid any kind of controversy, the governor may ask the House to elect its leader and whoever is elected as leader will be sworn in as the new chief minister.

Another option before the governor is to recommend imposition of the Presidentís rule in the state if he is satisfied that no party is able to form the government. Kashyap, however, said there was no timeframe fixed (in the Constitution) as how much time the governor would take in recommending imposition of the Presidentís rule.

Asked whether any party can effect a split in another party and could easily escape the swords of disqualification, Kashyap said the provisions of 10th Schedule of the Constitution made it clear that if any party splits with two-third of the legislature partyís strength and merges with any other party, only then legislatorsí membership would remain intact.

Echoing the similar sentiments, senior Supreme Court lawyer and former additional solicitor-general Amarendra Sharan praised Nitishís decision to resign taking moral ground and said: ďThis is the highest tradition of democracy a politician can demonstrate. He lost the peopleís mandate and he resigned. He must be congratulated as it would strengthen the democratic set-up.Ē

Speaking about the options the governor has in the current scenario, Sharan said Patilís first efforts would be to see whether or not a stable government can be formed in the state.

If he exhausts all his options, only then he would recommend Presidentís rule by dissolving the Assembly and fresh elections would be held.

Asked what would happen if Nitish is chosen as the JD(U) legislature party leader, Sharan said the governor could sworn in Nitish as the chief minister again as there is no legal binding on him (governor) in this regard.

Patna High Court senior advocate Yogesh Chandra Verma said if the governor exercises all his options vis-ŗ-vis government formation and no government is formed, then he may recommend Presidentís rule by putting the Assembly under suspended animation in the hope that some kind of arrangement may be reached in the future.

In case of Delhi, the Assembly is under suspended animation after an order by Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung. At present, Delhi is under Presidentís rule. Earlier, the Aam Aadmi Party government led by Arvind Kejriwal resigned as the BJP and the Congress joined hands to defeat the introduction of the Lokpal Bill, and recommended dissolution of the House and holding of fresh elections.

Presidentís rule was imposed in the state eight times with the last being for more than eight months (March 7, 2005 to November 24, 2005) just before Nitish came to power.