Karnataka set for face-off over transfer of power


Bangalore : Political uncertainty gripped Karnataka Monday with the ruling coalition partners Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) bracing for a showdown on their transfer of power pact.

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With the BJP serving an ultimatum to the JD-S either to transfer power by Wednesday or face snap polls, the latter continued to flip-flop on the agreement reached between the two parties 20 months ago.

After BJP’s in-charge of party affairs in Karnataka Yeshwant Sinha told reporters that there was no scope for negotiating the power transfer, JD-S supremo H.D. Deve Gowda queered the pitch by saying his party’s national executive and the political affairs committee (PAC) would meet in Bangalore and Delhi Oct 4-5 to decide on the issue.

Though the JD-S legislature party (JDLP) authorised Gowda to take the final decision at an inconclusive meeting here late Monday, the former prime minister declined to comment on the BJP’s ultimatum.

“Our party’s national executive will meet in the Bangalore Palace grounds Oct 4 to discuss the issue. The PAC will take up the issue Oct 5 in Delhi and decide whether we should continue our alliance with the BJP and remain as its coalition partner for the next 20 months,” Gowda told reporters, emerging out of the JDLP meeting.

Sinha had told reporters: “There is no scope for negotiating the power transfer with the JD-S and the time has come for it to redeem its pledge.”

As per the agreement between the BJP and the JD-S in Feb 2006, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy is expected to resign by Tuesday after his 20-month term ends and transfer power to the BJP with its leader B.S. Yediyurappa as the new chief minister for the remaining 20 months of the five-year assembly term.

“There is no scope for further negotiations on the three issues that was agreed upon by both the parties 20 months ago. The issues are: one, Kumaraswamy should resign by Oct 2 after completing 20 months of his term, two, should transfer to the BJP under Yediyurappa and three, number of ministers and portfolios to be decided mutually,” Sinha maintained.

Expressing confidence that Kumaraswamy would honour the pledge, Sinha said: “We expect the chief minister to hand over his resignation to the governor (Rameshwar Thakur) by Tuesday evening to facilitate the smooth transfer of power.

“We also expect Kumaraswamy to give a letter on behalf of the JDLP to the governor stating that his party supports Yediyurappa as the chief minister. The letter will enable the governor to invite and appoint Yediyurappa as the new chief minister of the state,” Sinha pointed out.

Asked what the party’s next move would be in the event of Kumaraswamy or the JD-S not honouring the pledge, Sinha said the people would be duly informed through the media on the steps that would be taken to defuse the political crisis.

“We expect Kumaraswamy and the JD-S to honour the pledge. It is up to them. The ball is in their court. They are aware of the agreement reached 20 months ago. Oct 3 has been coming for 20 months. It is not coming suddenly,” Sinha added.

Meanwhile, state BJP unit president D.V. Sadanada Gowda said the party would direct its ministers to resign from the cabinet and inform the governor that it was withdrawing support to the coalition government.