The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gowda goes secular after BJP blow

New Delhi/ Bangalore, Oct. 6: Elections appear inevitable in Karnataka unless the Congress steps in, after the BJP decided to withdraw support to the H.D. Kumaraswamy government today.

The Janata Dal (Secular) declared it would go to the people to “save Karnataka from the communal forces” soon after coalition partner BJP announced its decision. The split came after the JD(S) last night refused to transfer power.

While the BJP described the refusal as the “worst kind of political betrayal” in Independent India, JD(S) chief H.D. Deve Gowda argued the “painful decision” was taken to protect Karnataka from becoming a Gujarat-like “Hindutva laboratory”. The parties were allies for the past 20 months.

Gowda had met BJP president Rajnath Singh late last night and asked him to let his son Kumaraswamy continue as chief minister. The BJP, which held its parliamentary board meeting today, refused.

When the alliance was sealed, the parties had agreed that they would each hold the chief minister’s post for 20 months, with the JD(S) going first.

Asked why any party should trust him now, Gowda said the Karnataka coalition was essentially a “state-level arrangement” and the national leadership of the JD(S) was always opposed to any understanding with communal forces.

The JD(S) had pulled out of a Congress-led government to forge the alliance with the BJP.

Today, Gowda alleged that a section of Congress leaders had tried to destroy his party, prompting his son to turn to the BJP. But now when the BJP has “vitiated” the atmosphere by “making wild charges” against the chief minister and the Sangh parivar “has been trying to whip up communal frenzy”, he said, the JD(S) national leadership had to end the coalition.

The BJP leadership, which directed its state unit to call on the governor and seek polls immediately, hit back.

Party leader Yashwant Sinha said the BJP had “learnt a lesson” but hoped the people would teach the Gowda father-son duo a lesson.

“They will have to pay a heavy price for this betrayal as the deal was wholly transparent with every aspect clearly spelt out at the joint press conference,” Sinha said. The people would not accept another Congress-JD(S) alliance if there was one, he said.

The BJP is planning to hold rallies across Karnataka tomorrow. Party leaders will sit in dharna in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue on Bangalore’s M.G. Road before formally handing over a letter withdrawing support to the Kumaraswamy government to governor Rameshwar Thakur.

The party’s candidate for chief minister, B.S. Yediyurappa, said: “We are ready for polls now.”

His party has 79 members in the 224-member Assembly, the Congress 64 and the JD(S) 48. The remaining seats belong to Independents or small parties.

The Congress is bracing for hectic activity amid rumours that an alliance with Gowda is on the cards. The party is smarting under a poor performance in last week’s urban local body polls where it came a poor third after the JD(S) and the BJP.

But the general mood is to keep away from Gowda. Ramesh Kumar and Siddaramaiah, who crossed over from the JD(S) to the Congress, are against an alliance. So is Kanakapura MP Tejaswini Ramesh, who had defeated Gowda in the last Lok Sabha polls.

Only former chief minister Dharam Singh seems to trust Gowda despite the bitter experience 20 months ago and is hoping to convince the high command to team up with him again.

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