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Transfer of power not possible: Gowda

Former PM Deve Gowda says BJP should reconsider letting his son continue as Karnataka CM, report Shekhar Iyer and BR Srikanth.
Hindustan Times | By Shekhar Iyer and B.R. Srikanth, New Delhi/bangalore
UPDATED ON OCT 06, 2007 04:14 PM IST

Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda met BJP chief Rajnath Singh late Friday night to deliver the final word on his party’s refusal to honour the promise to transfer power — at the end of 20 months of the JD(S)-led coalition.

Gowda told the BJP chief that his party should reconsider letting his son HD Kumaraswamy continue as Lok Sabha polls were imminent.

Rajnath told Gowda about the BJP parliamentary board’s decision that the transfer of power should take place and YS Yediyurappa should become chief minister. The board is to meet again on Saturday to consider Gowda’s latest message.

In a day that saw both sides reiterate their positions, Kumaraswamy got a Cabinet meeting to recommend summoning of the state assembly on October 18 to enable him face a trust vote, minus the BJP’s support.

Reaching Delhi, Gowda initially decided to meet the BJP chief on Saturday and went into a huddle for more than three hours with his son and JD(S) leaders, who make up the party’s political affairs committee.

Gowda’s meeting with Rajnath Singh took place at the North Avenue residence of industrialist and Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandra shekhar.

Gowda told Singh that the Lok Sabha polls would be imminent because of the UPA-Left standoff on the nuclear issue. Earlier, Gowda got his party’s "authorization" to convey to the BJP chief "the feelings" of the partymen (against the transfer of power).

Kumaraswamy's strategy to face the floor test was seen by the BJP leaders as a move to go to the polls as a martyr to deflect charges of breaking the pact for transferring power at the end of his tenure as Chief Minister for 20 months.

Deve Gowda had done the same thing in 1997 when as Prime Minister he insisted on facing Parliament after the Congress withdrew support before putting in his papers.

BJP leaders said their parliamentary board also felt fresh elections would be the best alternative if the JD (S) remained adamant on not making Yediyurappa the chief minister. Rajnath would not hesistate in telling Gowda: "Let us now meet in the polls."

The BJP's parliamentary board will meet again on Saturday to consider the outcome of the Gowda-Rajnath meeting.

As a preparatory step, BJP MLAs will meet in Bangalore on October 7. With his party legislators and MPs backing him at a meeting on Friday, Yediyurappa pledged to pay back the JD(S) with the same coin by listing the party's complaints against Kumaraswamy.

"If JD(S) does not want to transfer power and wants to go to people's court, we (BJP) are also ready."

Yediyurappa said "I am also a son of the soil. I am a firm believer in the preaching of Basaveswara and do not know the art of cheating. I do what I say. We also have a long list (of charges against JD(S) leaders). We will wait for two days before giving them a reply."

The Congress, which could be a crucial player in Karnataka if it wants to by entering into an understanding with the JD(S), sought a quick floor test to prevent horse-trading. Simultaneously, Gowda ruled out any back-door deal with the Congress though JD(S) spokesperson Danish Ali said, "Kumaraswamy will show his strength in the assembly."

On Friday, the Congress leaders met Governor Rameshwar Thakur with a complaint that the administration had collapsed in view of the bickering by JD(S) and BJP ministers. "We have told the Governor that all programmes have come to a standstill. We have not made an appeal for President's rule because that situation has not arrived," said Karnataka Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge.

M Veerappa Moily , AICC's media department chairperson, said the Governor should not give more than a day or two to the government to prove its majority to avoid manipulation. The BJP's plans to install Yediyurappa, by "openly inviting" defectors, which could lead to "lot of horse-trading and use of money power", he said.

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