The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lost-chance buzz in Cong

New Delhi, Oct. 29: The Congress has demanded the Karnataka Assembly’s dissolution to prevent possible horse-trading, but insiders feel the party’s “reflexes ought to have been swifter”.

These leaders said mere “apprehension of horse-trading” wasn’t enough and the dissolution demand would have to be backed by political logic that can stand legal scrutiny.

The Centre had been censured when it used this apprehension to stall government formation in Bihar in 2005, a source pointed out.

One view is that too much importance was given to the letters that Janata Dal (Secular) chief H.D. Deve Gowda sent to President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi on October 24. The former Prime Minister had written about his fears of “horse-trading” and rooted for elections as the only solution.

Today, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi’s comments had the ring of missed opportunities.

“Within days, Deve Gowda and (his son) H.D. Kumaraswamy do a volte-face. Thirty-nine Dal(S) MLAs face anti-defection charges in a petition pending before the Speaker (of the Assembly). Yet, father, son and the Dal(S) wax and wane like the tides and the moon... the victims are the poor and non-empowered people of Karnataka.”

Neither Singhvi nor other leaders explained why the Centre had not endorsed governor Rameshwar Thakur’s recommendation to dissolve the Assembly.

There was also no word about how the party could stall the formation of a government as the BJP and the Dal(S) appear to have the numbers.

Others said dissident Dal(S) leader M.P. Prakash should have been “engaged” in a better way. Some of the blame could be laid on a Congress Rajya Sabha MP from Rajasthan whose family is said to have a stake in the Bellary mines. Prakash is believed to have approached this lawmaker with the “promise” that he would spirit away 22 Dal(S) MLAs if the Congress propped him up as chief minister.

The MP had approached top Congress leaders but was cold-shouldered following feedback that Prakash was “unsure of his numbers”.

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