As the Karnataka government looked set to fall only a week after the BJP saw its first chief minister in the south being sworn in, the rhetoric escalated in the capital with the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) saying it could not give its coalition partner a "blank cheque".
"If the BJP leadership here in Delhi wants the JD-S to give them a blank cheque to run the government whichever way they want, then we certainly cannot do that," party general secretary and spokesperson Kunwar Danish Ali said amid indications from Bangalore that the BJP's chief minister BS Yeddyurappa would quit after the JD-S decided not to support it in a trust vote.
Ali dismissed talk about his party's now-on-now-off dalliance with the BJP and said: "Aap karen to raaslila, hum karen to character dhila (You compare your acts to Lord Krishna, while describing us as people with loose character)."
He reminded the BJP: "If we are betrayers, if we are liars, then why did you come back to us to form a government with our support? Doesn't this expose your lust for power?"
He admitted that his party had been forced into supporting the BJP-led government for fear of a split in his party: "True, we have to save our party from attempts by bigger parties to split our party. But that does not mean we can give a blank cheque."
JD-S president and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda had sent a letter to BJP chief Rajnath Singh on Nov 1, listing 12 demands for supporting the state government.
It included objection to the BJP proposal to induct in the state cabinet BJP legislator Sriramulu, a former minister in the JD-S government who had lodged a police complaint against chief minister HD Kumaraswamy and charged him with attempt to murder.
The JD-S also sought a BJP-JD-S coordination committee to decide on allocation of portfolios to the ministers, leaving the decision of who would be deputy chief minister entirely to the JD-S.
Ali, considered a confidant of Deve Gowda, said his leader's first preference was to secure the dissolution of the assembly and go for mid-term elections.
"Way back on October 24 we gave a letter to the governor to dissolve the assembly. And we have not taken back that letter till today," he said.
Yeddyurappa was sworn in as chief minister Nov 12. Governor Rameshwar Thakur directed him to prove his majority before Nov 20.