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Karnataka power share unlikely

The BJP's power-sharing experiment in Karnataka heads for a crisis after state Chief Minister says he isn’t sure he will make way for his deputy in October, reports Shekhar Iyer.
Hindustan Times | By Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 16, 2007 02:24 AM IST

The BJP's power-sharing experiment in Karnataka was headed for a crisis on Sunday after state Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said he wasn’t sure he would make way for his deputy in October.

Under a 2006 agreement between the BJP and the Janata Dal (Secular), each party can hold the chief minister’s post for 20 months. JD(S) ends its part in October when Deputy Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa of the BJP is due to head the government.

“Though I have promised to share power with the BJP, I also need to respect the decision of my party,” Kumaraswamy told HT, hinting that he might go for fresh elections rather than hand over power to the BJP.

His remarks come at a time when there is talk of JD(S) and the Congress seeking an alternative arrangement in Karnataka.

Kumaraswamy did not rule out fresh elections to the state assembly as a solution out of the impending crisis. “I am accountable to the people of the state. For 17 months, I have given good governance without any scope for any criticism … Let’s see what happens on that day I have to hand over.”

He said he saw problems for the coalition experiment on two fronts. “There is resistance within my party to handing over power to the BJP when we have been working on a development agenda. Secondly, within the BJP too, there is opposition to Yediyurappa becoming chief minister.”

“We will not say or do anything first,” said a BJP leader. It is no secret that a BJP faction led by general secretary Ananth Kumar is not happy with the prospect of Yediyurappa becoming chief minister.

Kumaraswamy had broken away with 46 MLAs in January 2006 to join hands with the BJP’s 79 MLAs to form the government after the JD (S)-Congress coalition under Dharam Singh soured.

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