The political game in Karnataka was headed for a cliff-hanger with both the rival teams, the Janata Dal (Secular) and the BJP, determined to prolong the battle of nerves to the very end.
Ostensibly the two parties are still running a coalition government. In practice, they are at each other's throats.
After a stormy and prolonged legislature party meeting on Monday evening, the JD(S) chose to leave the decision on whether or not to hand over the chief ministership to the BJP by October 3, as the two parties had originally agreed, to party supremo and former prime minister, HD Deve Gowda.
BJP ministers, after their own hectic confabulations, ruled out any changes in the pact the party had reached with the JD(S) when the coalition first took over in January 2006.
Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha insisted that chief minister HD Kumaraswamy should resign by Tuesday evening.
Deve Gowda himself arrived to chair the JD(S) meeting on Monday night.
"We will take a decision on October 4 at a meeting of our state executive committee, " he told reporters after it ended.
Yashwant Sinha struck an entirely different note. "There is no scope for further negotiations," he said. He insisted, contrary to rumours circulating, that the BJP would not put up any candidate for chief ministership other than the present deputy chief minister and BJP legislature party leader Yediyurappa.
"We expect the chief minister to hand over his resignation to the governor by Tuesday. We also expect him to give a letter on behalf of his legislature party to the governor stating that it supports Yediyurappa as chief minister, " Sinha added.
Asked what the party's next move would be if the JD (S) reneges on the pact, Sinha said the BJP would take one step at a time. "We expect Kumaraswamy to honour the pledge the JD(S) had made," he said.
In Delhi, the BJP’s parliamentary board announced it would meet on October 4 to discuss the situation.
Sources said when Sinha met Deve Gowda, he put forward a host of conditions for handing over charge to the BJP.
He wanted the Janata Dal(S) to retain the portfolios of home, including intelligence, PWD, finance, power transport and Bangalore development which comprises the BDA, Greater Bangalore City Corporation and BWSSB. The BJP found it impossible to agree.
Gowda said his party made major gains in the urban local body elections, winning 1,400 seats.
“Though these elections do not have a bearing on the Assembly elections, the results are significant because 30 per cent of the state’s population voted,” Gowda said after his talks with Sinha.