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Sonia may meet Gowda

THE KARNATAKA contest showed the first signs of turning into a thriller on Saturday ? six days ahead of the floor test for the Congress-led coalition government.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2006 23:30 IST

THE KARNATAKA contest showed the first signs of turning into a thriller on Saturday — six days ahead of the floor test for the Congress-led coalition government.

Even as the pack of 40-odd beaming rebel JD(S) MLAs, led by H.D. Kumaraswamy, flew to Goa to avoid poaching ahead of the vote of confidence, Chief Minister Dharam Singh and JD(S) chief H.D. Deve Gowda said they were still hopeful of saving the government.

The chief minister’s optimism was rooted in Hyderabad, where the Congress central leadership has gathered for a two-day party plenary. There was talk that Congress president Sonia Gandhi may, after all, speak to Deve Gowda to avoid a collapse.

AICC general secretary Ambika Soni said in Hyderabad: “There is a possibility that the two leaders may talk after the plenary.”

Though Deve Gowda has been critical of Kumaraswamy in public, saying he did not support his son’s idea of forming a coalition with the BJP, it is no secret that he has been unhappy with Congress alliance for some time. In fact, he had even told the Congress that he might opt out of the alliance after February 8. It is another thing that his son did not wait till then.

The opposition camp — the JD(S) rebels and the BJP MLAs — have left Bangalore to prevent any “change of heart”. While the JD(S) rebels flew to Panjim on a chartered aircraft in the afternoon, all the 79 BJP MLAs flew to Chennai on Friday night itself. The BJP MLAS were likely to move to a resort near Jaipur before returning for the floor test.

Before leaving, Kumaraswamy showed neither any semblance of change of mind nor remorse for revolting against Deve Gowda. “We are not going back to the Congress, we are not interested in any formula of that party. We just want to provide good governance. Only time will convince my father that I have done no wrong,” he said.

First Published: Jan 22, 2006 23:30 IST