JD-S heads towards break-up in Karnataka


Bangalore : The Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) in Karnataka Wednesday moved closer to a split as a large number of its leaders, unhappy with the way party president H.D. Deve Gowda was running the organization, met here to draw up plans to go their own way.

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Around 20 JD-S legislators met under the leadership of M.P. Prakash and decided to boycott the party’s executive committee meeting here Thursday.

They decided to meet again in a week’s time to firm up future course of action, Prakash told reporters after the meeting.

“Tomorrow’s meeting is a public meeting and not an executive committee meeting,” he said in a sarcastic reference to Deve Gowda’s plans to assemble several thousands for the meet convened by him and his son, former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.

Prakash claimed that at least five more assembly members had informed him over phone that they support his moves but could not attend Wednesday’s meeting due to other preoccupations.

“Of the 20 legislators at Wednesday’s meeting, 17 are assembly members and three members of the legislative council (upper house of the legislature),” he said.

Besides Prakash, the other prominent assembly member to attend the meeting was N. Cheluvarayaswamy, former transport minister, considered very close to Kumaraswamy.

“We will meet again in eight days and take a final decision on future plans,” Prakash said.

“All of us have attended the meeting on our own and our decision not to attend Thursday’s meeting is unanimous,” Cheluvarayaswamy said.

Prakash is among the several in JD-S leaders unhappy at former prime minister Deve Gowda’s flip-flop on supporting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after being in power with the support of that party for 20 months.

In a last minute bid to avert the split in the party, Deve Gowda met Prakash on Tuesday night.

While Deve Gowda was hopeful that problems would be sorted out, Prakash said after the meeting that he had gone too far in his mission to chart out an independent role and a final decision will be taken after meeting other JD-S leaders sharing his views.

Deve Gowda’s somersaults have resulted in the president’s rule in the state and imminent dissolution of the assembly, 19 months ahead of schedule.

Prakash is particularly upset as Deve Gowda pulled the rug under him when he was negotiating with Congress leaders in New Delhi in late October to form an alternative government to avoid early assembly polls.

Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy decided to support a BJP-led government in Karnataka Oct 27, three weeks after refusing to hand over the post of chief minister to it even as Prakash was talking to Congress leaders in New Delhi.

After scuttling Prakash’s efforts, the father-son combine brought down the ministry led by BJP’s B.S. Yeddyurappa on Nov 19, leading to re-imposition of the president’s rule and keeping the 225-member assembly in suspended animation.

On Monday, parliament approved the president’s rule and the assembly will be dissolved soon.

Majority of the legislators irrespective of party affiliation are against early polls, particularly the 103 first-time legislators.

Earlier in the day, M.P. Veerendrakumar, a JD-S MP from Kerala, met Prakash and appreciated his efforts to convene a meeting of party leaders wanting to dissociate themselves from Deve Gowda.

After the meeting, he told reporters that if Prakash and other JD-S leaders take a final decision on the split, “we can have a common ground to work together.”

Veerendrakumar revolted against Deve Gowda after he allowed Kumaraswamy to align with the BJP to form the coalition government in Karnataka in February 2006.

Veerendrakumar, now associated with the Surendra Mohan-led JD-S, has approached the Election Commission staking claim to the JD-S symbol and has succeeded in freezing it in Kerala.