S. Rajendran

JD(S) group, BJP pile up pressure

Kumaraswamy resolute, confidentDharam Singh looks to high commandJanata Dal(U) supports new grouping

Bangalore: The political imbroglio in Karnataka continued for the fourth day on Saturday with no sign of a resolution, although there were clear signs of much behind-the-scenes activity. The Janata Dal(Secular) group and the Bharatiya Janata Party seemed to be trying to pile pressure on Chief Minister Dharam Singh to quit ahead of the trial of strength on the floor of the legislature on January 27.

If the BJP moved its MLAs to Chennai on Friday night, on Saturday it was the turn of the JD(S) group to fly its MLAs to Goa. High drama marked the trip. The group included its rallying force, H.D. Kumaraswamy. His message was unambiguous: "I will prove my strength on January 27."

Mr. Dharam Singh, still banking on JD(S) national president H.D. Deve Gowda coming to his aid, exuded confidence that the former Prime Minister would manage to bring around his son, Mr. Kumaraswamy. He was looking to Hyderabad and the Congress high command, in particular some senior Congress leaders, to evolve a solution.

It was after several rounds of discussions that Goa was chosen as the 'safe haven" for the JD(S) legislators. State JD(S) president N. Thippanna led them.

Before their departure, Mr. Kumaraswamy said the move was not prompted by the fear of horse-trading. They had decided to shift out of Bangalore for a few days to let the Congress high command know that the JD(S) group's aim was not to bargain. Rather, it wanted to convey to the Congress its displeasure. "Rather than face a trial of strength on the floor of the legislature which will result in the defeat of the motion of confidence, it is better for the party to call upon the Chief Minister to quit.

On Saturday the Janata Dal(United) with seven legislators, of whom five are MLAs, decided to support the combine of the JD(S) group and the BJP. State JD(U) president B. Somashekar, who is in New Delhi to finalise the understanding, told The Hindu that the modalities would be worked out after the trial of strength. The total strength of the JD (S)-BJP-JD (U) group combine is now 128 in a house of 224.

Deve Gowda's discussions

Mr. Deve Gowda held discussions with national-level JD(S) leaders, including the floor leader of the JD(S) in the Lok Sabha, M.P. Veerendra Kumar; senior vice-president Bapu Kaldate, and secretary-general Danish Ali.

Deputy Chief Minister M.P. Prakash and Finance and Industries Minister P.G.R. Sindhiawere present.

The JD(S) national president said he was working on ways to save the Dharam Singh Government. He ruled out any meeting of the national executive of the party before January 27.

He said he would meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi, if need be. (In Hyderabad, the Congress spoke of the possibility of Ms. Gandhi meeting him, but side-stepped questions on applying the Jammu and Kashmir formula of leadership rotation in Karnataka, reports PTI.)

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