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CONGRESS IN EXIT LINE | BJP sniffs power in Karnataka

RIDING A fractured JD(S), the BJP is all set to get its maiden shot at governance in south India through a new political combination in Karnataka. The split in the coalition with the JD(S) virtually ended the Congress?s reign on Friday.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2006 11:54 IST

RIDING A fractured JD(S), the BJP is all set to get its maiden shot at governance in south India through a new political combination in Karnataka. The split in the coalition with the JD(S) virtually ended the Congress’s reign on Friday.

Governor T.N. Chaturvedi now has the final call. Late on Friday, both Chief Minister Dharam Singh and the rebellious JD(S) MLAs and BJP leaders met Chaturvedi with their respective claims. While the CM wanted a ‘day or two’ to prove majority, the JD(S)-BJP combine paraded 140 MLAs and sought the immediate dismissal of the government. The JD(S)-BJP MLAs said the governor assured them of a decision on Saturday.

Earlier, JD(S) leader H.D. Deve Gowda wrote to Dharam Singh, requesting him to quit without seeking the confidence vote. Calling his son’s rebellion an “unfortunate event” of his life, he blamed some MLAs for using him to destroy the coalition.

“It is better the chief minister resigns before the vote of confidence. Otherwise, it might lead to bitterness during the debate (on the motion of confidence),” his letter read. The Congress did not buy this, since it “will pave a smooth takeover by the JD(S)-BJP”.

H.D. Kumaraswamy, leader of the JD(S)-BJP combine, defended his father, saying Gowda had no part in the new arrangement. “His commitment to secularism is well-known,” he said. The rebel leader had earlier vetoed his father’s ‘don’t defect’ plea to party MLAs, and issued them a whip.

The drama climaxed with the Congress triggering a crisis in the House, forcing the speaker to adjourn the assembly sine die. The party was protesting against his decision to recognise Kumaraswamy as the new JD(S) legislature party leader. The House was adjourned thrice, but order was not restored for the confidence vote.

The drama was no less interesting outside. Gowda stepped down as president of JD(S) for failing to maintain party unity. The next step of the new combine will be announced on February 3 — the day Kumaraswamy and the BJP have chosen to take the oath of office.

First Published: Jan 28, 2006 11:54 IST