BJP in a tizzy over power transfer in Karnataka


Bangalore : The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka was in turmoil Saturday after a minister in the coalition government ruled out transfer of power to that party saying Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) will continue in office.

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The JDS-BJP coalition came to power in February last year with an agreement that the JD-S will hold the chief ministership for first 20 months followed by the BJP for the remaining 20 months of the assembly's life.

However, Labour Minister Iqbal Ansari of JD-S sent the BJP into a tizzy by his statement at a public meeting in the coastal district of Dakshina Kannada late Friday night that there was no question of handing over power to the coalition partner.

He made this claim in the presence of Kumaraswamy during a campaign for a JD-S candidate in Dakshina Kannada's Ullal assembly by-poll scheduled for June 2.

Kumaraswamy did not contradict his minister's assertion. Deputy Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa of the BJP, who is hoping to occupy the chief minister's chair in four months from now, was sarcastic in his response.

Talking to reporters Saturday morning at Bangalore, Yediyurappa said: "I will be very happy if Kumaraswamy continues". He also tried to sound philosophical, saying if it's in his destiny he will become the chief minister. "In any case I will not talk about it (power transfer) for the next four months," he said.

However, his party colleague and Water Resources Minister K.S. Eshwarappa did not mince words, saying, "After the Ullal by-poll result is out, we will make Ansari say who the chief minister is."

The Congress has fielded a minority candidate, U.T. Khader. His father U.T. Fareed had held the seat and the by-poll was necessitated by his demise. BJP's nominee Chandashekar Uchil had lost to Fareed in the 2004 polls.

The JD-S has fielded its candidate Aboobacker Natekal, a local businessman.

Kumaraswamy, who spoke to reporters in Mangalore, the district headquarters of Dakshina Kannada, did not criticise his minister for making such a controversial statement.

Apparently enjoying the uneasiness in his coalition partner following Ansari's statement, Kumaraswamy said: "I will find out why he made it. He might have done it as an election strategy." However, there was some consolation for the BJP with Kumaraswamy saying he was clear in his mind on sticking to the power-sharing agreement.