The BJP and the Janata Dal (Secular) drew curtains on their 20-month coalition on a bitter note a day after former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda said “no” to BJP chief Rajnath Singh on the issue of transfer of power in Karnataka.
The BJP withdrew support to Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy while the JD (S) revived its secular card, accusing it of attempting to turn Karnataka into a Hindutva laboratory like Gujarat.
All the BJP MLAs led by B S Yediyurappa, who was Deputy Chief Minister and denied a chance to become Chief Minister, would march to Raj Bhavan on Sunday to hand over the letter of withdrawal of support to Governor Rameshwar Thakur.
Both the BJP and the JD (S) vowed to face the electorate afresh and ruled out any bid to capture power without fresh polls. Gowda said Kumaraswamy’s decision to seek a floor test on October 18 was to explain his party’s position rather than save his government.
Noting that Gowda’s talks with Singh were fruitless, the BJP’s parliamentary board met on Saturday to asked its leaders to meet the Karnataka Governor “at the earliest” to withdraw support to Kumaraswamy and press for fresh elections.
Calling it a "worst-ever betrayal", BJP’s vice president and Karnataka in-charge Yashwant Singh said, “the issue is not just about transfer of power, it is betrayal by a party headed by a former Prime Minister which cannot honour the agreement.”
If the BJP sounded “betrayed” by the JD (S), Gowda heralded the parting of ways as restoration of his party’s “secular” credentials. He said his party could not transfer power because of “the Sangh Parivar's attempt to turn Karnataka into a Hindutva laboratory” and “the defamation campaign against me and Kumaraswamy.”
Vowing equidistance from both Congress and BJP, Gowda asked his party spokesperson Danish Ali to contact the Left leaders to convey that the JD (S) had done its best to halt the BJP from coming to power in the south. Ali spoke to CPI (M)’s Prakash Karat and met CPI’s A B Bardhan and D Raja. Gowda hopes to meet the Left leaders in the near future.
Addressing the media, Gowda favoured fresh elections in the state and ruled out any truck with Congress to continue in power. "Our intention is to go for people's mandate," he said at the end of an extended meeting of the JD (S)’s political affairs committee, which reviewed the situation in the wake of the BJP”s decision.
Gowda blamed the BJP for his party’s refusal to transfer power. “How could we have agreed to transfer power after a Cabinet Minister of the BJP accused the Chief Minister of an attempt to murder? The people will decide whether I am trustworthy or not. Elections are not far off.”
Gowda asked the BJP to explain why it went behind his back in January 2006 to sew up the coalition with Kumaraswamy, ignoring him. “Did they not betray me then?” He also demanded why central BJP leaders did not respond to his letters.
A JD (S) resolution distributed by Gowda said the BJP was afraid of Kumaraswamy's growing popularity due to his pro-poor, pro-people approach. The BJP was also afraid of JD (S)' good showing in the recent local bodies elections.
Asked if the BJP had drawn any lesson from the Karnataka crisis, Sinha said, "The moral of the story is that we have to be careful in the future."
But he was non-committal on naming BS Yeduriappa as its Chief Ministerial candidate though he had been projected as s the successor to Kumaraswamy for days.
"Yeduriyappa was our chief ministerial candidate till yesterday. The BJP Parliamentary Board will decide on the Chief Ministerial candidate at the time of elections," he said when asked who would be BJP’s chief ministerial candidate if elections were held. Yeduriyappa was sitting beside Sinha.
Sinha also defended the BJP’s decision of January 2006 to ally with the JD (S) in the first place, as “it was to respect the 2004 mandate which was in favour of the BJP but against the Congress.”