Deve Gowda favours status quo in Karnataka


Bangalore : Putting their agreement aside, Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) president H.D. Deve Gowda Sunday asked coalition partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to allow his son H.D. Kumaraswamy to continue as Karnataka chief minister even after Oct 3 or be prepared for early elections in the state.

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Deve Gowda met BJP vice president Yashwant Sinha in the evening, after making him wait since Saturday, and drew his attention to the results of Friday’s civic body elections in which the JD-S had emerged as the largest party.

According to party sources, Deve Gowda told Sinha that the results, which came out Sunday, clearly showed that people were in favour of JD-S leading the coalition government.

“We discussed the issue and if need be we will meet again,” Deve Gowda told reporters after the meeting with Sinha.

“We exchanged views. We will consult our respective parties and if need be will meet again,” Sinha said during a brief interaction with the media at Deve Gowda’s residence.

There were conflicting versions on how long the meeting lasted, with Deve Gowda’s office saying it was all over within 10 minutes though BJP sources stated it lasted around 30 minutes.

The JD-S had 20 months ago agreed to share power with the BJP and pass it the chief minister’s baton on Oct 3. The BJP support came after the JD-S severed its ties with its then partner, the Congress.

If implemented, the deal would deliver the BJP its first chief minister in south India. However, JD-S performance in the civic polls has created further hurdles before it.

The JD-S won around 1,600 out of the 4,920 seats with BJP way behind in third place with 1,100 seats. The Congress was in second place with about 1,400 seats.

The polls were held on Friday and around 70 percent of 9.3 million voters cast their ballots.

“It is the people’s verdict and we have to accept this,” Deve Gowda told reporters on JD-S impressive show in the polls.

According to the JD-S sources, Deve Gowda reminded Sinha of grave accusations such as attempt-to-murder charges levelled by a BJP leader against Kumaraswamy and said in such a situation, the chief minister’s post could not be handed over to the BJP.

They added that Deve Gowda also told Sinha the only alternative was early polls.

Civic body poll results are a pointer to what is in store for the BJP if elections for the assembly were held now, Deve Gowda is learnt to have told Sinha.

Sinha arrived here Friday night to talk to his party leaders and Deve Gowda who called off talks with BJP central leaders in Delhi Thursday

Deve Gowda was unhappy with the BJP following the attempt-to-murder charge BJP minister B. Sriramulu made against Kumaraswamy.

The BJP asked Sriramulu resign as tourism minister Saturday, but clearly the father-son duo were not impressed since the party had not taken any harsh action against Sriramulu or condemned him for levelling his charge.

Meanwhile, Kumaraswamy called a meeting of his party’s legislators Monday evening to decide on the power transfer.

Deve Gowda is understood to have told Sinha that Kumaraswamy alone could not decide the issue. “If he submits the resignation, the party can and will reject it,” he pointed out to Sinha, according the JD-S sources.

Deputy Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, who has been hoping to take over as chief minister Wednesday, called a meeting of his party’s ministers Monday to decide if they should resign in case Kumaraswamy goes back on his word.