| Kumaraswamy after declaring his support to the BJP and Venkaiah Naidu (bottom) in Bangalore on Saturday. (PTI)
Bangalore/New Delhi, Oct. 27: Estranged partners BJP and the Janata Dal (Secular) today decided to forgive and forget and give their southern marriage another try to stop the Congress from wresting power through the “backdoor”.
A lazy Saturday afternoon churned alive when the Dal(S), which had earlier reneged on its promise of transferring power, offered unconditional support to a BJP-led government in Karnataka, under President’s rule for the past 20 days.
Leaders of both parties — former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, the BJP’s B.S. Yediyurappa, who would have succeeded Kumaraswamy had the Dal(S) honoured the February 2006 power-share deal, and the state chiefs of the two outfits — met governor Rameshwar Thakur around 3.30 and urged him to give them another chance.
“We hope the governor would go by the letter and spirit of the Constitution,” BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu said in state capital Bangalore.
The Congress said “lust for power” had led to the “unholy” patch-up alliance and asked the governor not to entertain the BJP-Dal(S) claim.
Naidu explained the kiss-and-make-up as an “extension” of the old agreement of sharing power for 20 months each. “This has been done to stop the Congress from forming a government through the back door,” he added.
In the 225-strong Assembly, the BJP has 79 MLAs, the Congress 65, and the Dal(S) 58.
Karnataka came under central rule earlier this month after ministers of the “betrayed” BJP resigned following Kumaraswamy’s refusal to step down and make way for Yediyurappa. Though there were attempts at a patch-up a few days later, BJP central leaders opted for a fresh mandate.
But with Thakur keeping the Assembly in suspended animation, days of hectic parleys followed and the Congress almost stitched up an alliance with some disgruntled Dal(S) MLAs. It served as a warning to H.D. Deve Gowda, the Dal(S) chief and Kumaraswamy’s father.
In Delhi, BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudi said Gowda offered his party’s unconditional support when he spoke to BJP chief Rajnath Singh. Rajnath then talked to members of the BJP’s parliamentary board and told Yediyurappa to go ahead.
The BJP spokesperson also claimed that both parties agreed to contest the next general elections together.
But senior Dal(S) leader and former home minister M.P. Prakash, who was in Delhi to strike a deal with the Congress, spoilt the music of reconciliation.
He questioned the decision to support the BJP and, before flying back to Bangalore, vowed to “boldly face the new situation”. Sources close to him said this could mean splitting the party.
Prakash also questioned the validity of the letter of support sent to the governor as no legislature party meeting had been held to discuss the issue.
In Bangalore, Naidu said he was confident that the fresh alliance would last. Asked what the understanding was now, he quipped: “Not to have further misunderstanding.”