The curtain came down on Karnataka’s 20-month ruling partnership on Saturday, following Janata Dal (Secular) chief HD Deve Gowda’s “no” to his BJP counterpart Rajnath Singh on power transfer in the state.
Deve Gowda, who turned down the BJP on Friday, accused the former ally of attempting to make the state a Hindutva laboratory like Gujarat.
The BJP, calling Deve Gowda’s move the “worst ever betrayal”, has asked its MLAs to march to Raj Bhavan on Sunday and announce the party’s withdrawal of support to Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy. The BJP MLAs will be led by BS Yediyurappa, who was the Deputy Chief Minister and till yesterday the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate.
Both parties have vowed to face the electorate. “Our intention is to go for people’s mandate,” Deve Gowda said at the end of an extended meeting of the JD (S)’s political affairs committee.
Kumaraswamy, however, has decided to seek a floor test on October 18.
According to the power transfer pact, Kumaraswamy was to have stepped down, making way for Yediyurappa.
BJP vice-president and Karnataka in-charge Yashwant Sinha said: “The issue is not just about transfer of power, it is betrayal by a party headed by a former Prime Minister who cannot honour the agreement.”
He stayed non-committal on whether Yediyurappa would be the party’s chief ministerial candidate. “Yediyurappa 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. Yeduriyappa was sitting beside him then. Asked what his party had learnt from the crisis, Sinha said: “The moral of the story is that we have to be careful in future.”
Deve Gowda played the “secular” card to explain the breach. He said the JD (S) could not transfer power because of “the Sangh Parivar’s attempt to turn Karnataka into a Hindutva laboratory” and “the defamation campaign” against him and Kumaraswamy.
“How could we have agreed to transfer power after a cabinet minister of the BJP accused the Chief Minister of an attempt to murder?” he asked.