S. Rajendran and A. Jayaram

Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister and others spend four hours on Tuesday trying to save the Government

The partners are not seeing eye-to-eye on the issueCabinet meeting commences five hours late

Bangalore: The tenuousness of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition Government in the State was in full evidence on Tuesday evening with the move to scuttle the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Project taken up by the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE) assuming crisis proportions.

The issue blew over thanks to a decision taken in prolonged behind-the-scene parleys to defer a discussion on the project at a meeting of the Cabinet here. Though a decision on the issue has been deferred, the differences between the two ruling parties persist, sources say. Reports have it that the two coalition partners are not seeing eye-to-eye on the issue even as farmers, who have lost their lands, damaged a few stretches of the expressway to be inaugurated on June 16.

However, sources in the two parties have maintained that there is no threat to the four-month-old Government. The crux of the issue is that while the BJP agrees with the Janata Dal (S) that about 2,400 acres of excess land handed over to NICE be recovered by the Government, it is against any move to scuttle the project through legislation covering all land-intensive development and infrastructure projects.

The differences between the two came to the fore as there was an inordinate delay in the holding of a meeting of the Cabinet convened in the afternoon to discuss the issue. Sources in the Janata Dal (S) and the BJP told The Hindu that their parties were firm that their Ministers concerned in the Government should strictly adhere to the party stand. The differences between the two parties were described as serious.

It is said that while the Public Works Department has stated that nearly 2,500 acres of additional land along the peripheral road to be constructed by NICE is in "excess", NICE has said that it was not in possession of any such land and that the Government should allot it 20,193 acres of land for the project as directed by the High Court of Karnataka and the Supreme Court.

The BJP leaders have demanded that a high-level committee of the leaders of the two parties be constituted to go into the issue of land allocation for the project. They have said the Government could thereafter chalk out a course of action based on the observations of the committee.

The Cabinet meeting commenced five hours late although it was not clear whether the leaders of the two parties have arrived at an understanding on the issue. Earlier, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, Deputy Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa and other Ministers spent over four hours closeted in the various rooms of the Vidhana Soudha evolving a solution. Their immediate goal was to save the Government.

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