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JD (S) breaks 'power transfer promise'

CM Kumaraswamy rules out handing over the baton to BJP’s YS Yedirupppa, report S Iyer and BR Srikanth.
Hindustan Times | By Shekhar Iyer and BR Srikanth, New Delhi/bangalore
UPDATED ON OCT 05, 2007 05:01 AM IST

The Janata Dal (S) has bluntly told the BJP that it will not hand over power to it. Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy ruled out handing over the baton to BJP’s YS Yedirupppa, saying, “We will go to the people’s court. I am ready to break my word on power transfer."

Notwithstanding his crucial meeting with BJP chief Rajnath Singh on Friday, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda set in motion his plan to dump the BJP and go for fresh assembly polls in the hope that the Lok Sabha elections too will be held early.

Summoning its highest-decision making body, the parliamentary board, the BJP stood its ground. It declared that the power-sharing agreement with the JD(S) was “non-negotiable” and Yediyurappa was its chief ministerial candidate. The board, however, decided to meet again on October 6 to take the final call on pulling out support for Kumaraswamy.

Kumaraswamy called on the Governor and convened a meeting of the Cabinet on Friday, ostensibly to secure a go-ahead for a special session of the legislative assembly where he intended to face a test of strength. His office sent out intimations to all BJP ministers who handed in their resignations on Tuesday. The ministers, however, said they would not attend as they had quit.

Addressing his party leaders, Kumaraswamy said he was willing to face elections if the situation caused by the “character assassination” campaign by the BJP leaders in the state continues. “Should I hand over power to the BJP whose leaders have vowed to perform last rites of my family and my party?”

He said, “Twenty months ago, I gave them my word. At that time, I had to save my party. Now, I have the interests of five and a half crore Kannadigas at the top of my mind. Their (BJP leaders) behaviour in recent days has given me the idea to go to face the people and explain why I turned a betrayer.” Kumaraswamy had tied up with the BJP against his father's wishes last year.

Questioning central BJP leaders’ entry into the transfer negotiations, which was agreed between him and state unit leaders in 2006, Kumaraswamy said none of the local leaders discussed the issue with him, but chose the media as a medium to set deadlines.

On his part, Gowda said: “I will have frank discussions with the BJP national president. If there is an understanding, it is fine. Otherwise, each party has a right to take its own decision.” In another 48 hours, he said, the final outcome would be known.

Striking a hard line in response, BJP spokesman Yashwant Sinha told reporters after a meeting of the BJP Parliamentary Board that “the arrangement has to be implemented”. Asked about Kumaraswamy’s statement that his party was ready to face elections, he said, “It is entirely up to them. If Deve Gowda were to say that this is our view and therefore nothing further needs to be discussed with the BJP leadership, then the Parliamentary Board on (October) 6th will take an appropriate decision.”

Sinha said: “The agreement is non-negotiable and the Parliamentary Board has emphasised that B.S. Yediurappah is our candidate for chief minister. That is also non-negotiable. This will be conveyed to Deve Gowda as and when he meets the central leadership.” He rubbished reports that the BJP was trying to effect a split in the JD(S).

Earlier, Kumaraswamy read out chargesheets against the BJP and its ministers. The charges were of communal politics, lack of concern for farmers and sustained character assassination of Gowda and members of his family.

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