The day on which Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy was supposed to quit office and allow Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader B.S. Yediyurappa to take his place passed with the former showing no signs of doing so. Neither did Kumaraswamy’s father and Janata Dal-Secular supremo H.D. Deve Gowda give any indication that he would relent on any of the pre-conditions he had laid down before Kumaraswamy gave up power.
Instead Deve Gowda said that the power sharing arrangement between his son and Yediyurappa had “exceeded its shelf life” and would reach “a turning point” on Saturday.
The JD-S and BJP had formed a coalition government in January 2006 with the understanding that the JD-S chief minister would relinquish office after 20 months to make way for the BJP’s candidate. The deadline for the transfer of chief ministership was Wednesday.
The BJP’s parliamentary board meets on Thursday to discuss the developments. The JD-S political affairs committee (PAC) is scheduled to meet the next day in Delhi.
A dejected Yediyurappa drove to Yediyur in Tumkur district to offer special prayers at the Shiva temple there. “I asked the Lord if I had committed any error for which I was being made to pay the price,” he told reporters on his return. “I prayed to Him for justice.”
“Sometime ago, Kumaraswamy asked me not to remind him about the change-over but to wait quietly for his last day in office,” he added. “Now, he does not have the courtesy to even call us for a discussion on the transfer of power.”
“We are not asking for any favours,” said BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu. “We are not making new demands. We want them to respect the agreement we had reached in letter and spirit.”
All 17 BJP ministers who handed over their resignation letters to Kumaraswamy on Sunday night, when it became apparent that he was not stepping down, stayed away from office on Wednesday. They also returned their official vehicles.
Kumaraswamy, however, has not accepted their letters yet. “I have not refused to step down,” he said. “The BJP leaders have been behaving in a childish manner for the last two days. They should have more patience and display more maturity. There was no reason for the BJP ministers to resign. They have complicated the issue. They should have waited for the decision of our PAC,” the chief minister added.
Kumaraswamy had on Tuesday conveyed to JD-S ministers and MLAs that his family was opposed to the power shift. Party sources also said that in the event of the BJP withdrawing support after the PAC refused to handover power, Kumaraswamy may enact a political drama like his father by seeking a vote of confidence in the assembly.
Meanwhile, Gowda claimed neither the BJP nor the Congress would be able to lure away JD-S legislators to break away as they are confident of facing the assembly poll. “We have maintained equal distance from both the Congress and BJP since 1999 and contested elections on our own, even though we forged coalitions with both of them. We will continue this policy even in this matter,” he said.