S. Rajendran

New turn in Karnataka politics

BANGALORE: Political developments in Karnataka took a new turn on Friday with the JD(S) leadership deciding to back the party leader and former Deputy Chief Minister, M.P. Prakash, if the Congress offers him the Chief Ministership.

The decision followed the move by a section of the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) leaders to form a coalition government.

The former Chief Minister, H.D. Kumaraswamy, who is responsible for maintaining the unity of the JD(S) legislature party, told The Hindu that the party had decided to extend all support to Mr. Prakash if he struck an understanding with the Congress.

Late-night meeting

Mr. Kumaraswamy and Mr. Prakash had a lengthy discussion on Thursday and the former Chief Minister followed it up with a late-night meeting of over 40 legislators of the JD(S).

The open support of the Janata Dal (Secular) to Mr. Prakash, who initiated the government-formation exercise without the approval of the party supremo, Mr. Gowda, is considered a tactical move to avert a split in the party.

The split threat comes from the overtures made to some JD(S) legislators by a section of the Congress leaders.

The former Chief Minister said: “I have spoken to the national president and former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, who is away in New Delhi and he has approved the move to extend full support to Mr. Prakash.”

Mr. Kumaraswamy said:

“We do not want a senior leader like Mr. Prakash seeking the support of his former Janata Dal associates like Siddaramaiah, B.L. Shankar, R.V. Deshpande, P.G.R. Sindhia, Ramesh Kumar and others. We will be with him and would only be too happy if he is the next Chief Minister of the State. All 59 legislators of the party [including three of the Janata Dal-U and associate members] will extend support to Mr. Prakash. We are confident that the Congress high command will approve Chief Ministership of Mr. Prakash who is a tall political leader.

“Earlier in 2004, Mr. Deve Gowda had tried his best to obtain Chief Ministership for Mr. Siddaramaiah. Why talk to some local Congress leaders? We want Mr. Prakash to directly talk to the Congress high command.”

‘I am confident’

After day-long consultations with several political leaders who could help him muster the requisite support, Mr. Prakash left for New Delhi, accompanied by some party legislators.

“I am on way to meet some top Congress leaders on an invitation. I am confident of fruitful talks with the Congress,” he said.

This is the second visit of Mr. Prakash to New Delhi in under four days and this would be followed up with further discussions subject to the approval of AICC president Sonia Gandhi.

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