The results of the urban local bodies (ULB) polls in Karnataka on Sunday, have come as a godsend to Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Deve Gowda and his son and chief minister, HD Kumaraswamy. Buoyed by the JD's spectacular showing, the father-son duo are nursing second thoughts about handing over power to the BJP, sources close them said. If the BJP remained adamant on taking over, they would rather go for fresh elections.
Gowda and the Yashwant Sinha, the BJP's central leader in charge of Karnataka, met on Sunday evening, after Sinha rushed down to Bangalore to resolve the crisis. BJP leaders were tight-lipped on what transpired at their meeting. But JD(S) sources, revealed that the former prime minister bluntly told Sinha that Kumaraswamy should be allowed to continue beyond his term as the poll outcome reflected his enormous popularity.
The deadline for the transfer of power is October 3 under a JD (S)-BJP pact, reached when their coalition was formed, that each party would have its nominee as chief minister for 20 months.
The meeting was delayed as Sinha preferred to meet Gowda at some secret location, while Gowda insisted that Sinha should call on him at his residence.
Of the 4488 seats (out of 4998 contested) for which results had been declared on Sunday night, the JD(S) had bagged 1393 against the BJP 1000. The largest tally, however, was that of the Congress, with 1464 seats. This enabled Gowda to also warn Sinha that the Congress remained a formidable force in the state, and breaking the coalition on the issue of chief ministership would only help the Congress, JD(S) sources added.
An anxious BJP core committee met at the residence of L K Advani in the capital to review the situation as Central leaders kept saying that they were hopeful that the transfer of power would be a smooth affair. The BJP had already sought to mollify Gowda and Kumaraswamy by forcing the resignation of tourism minister B Sriramalu, for having accused Kumaraswamy of plotting to murder him.
For the record, both leaders said they had agreed to meet "again, if necessary".
Both JD(S) and BJP legislators are holding separate meetings on Monday to discuss the poll results and the possible transfer of power.