S. Rajendran and A. Jayaram

Trust vote not taken; Gowda steps down; Kumaraswamy recognised as leader

Bangalore: A constitutional deadlock has occurred in Karnataka: the third session of the Karnataka Assembly was adjourned sine die by Speaker Krishna on Friday evening without the Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh seeking the vote of confidence as directed by Governor T.N. Chaturvedi.

Now the majority enjoyed by the government of the day is an open question. The ball is back in the Governor's court after an eight-day gap.

On a day of intense developments, the fate of the first coalition has been sealed with the Speaker granting recognition to H.D. Kumaraswamy as leader of the Janata Dal (Secular) Legislature Party, which has allied with the Bharatiya Janata Party to form a new government.

Mr. Kumaraswamy's father and JD (S) national president H.D. Deve Gowda resigned from his post as his appeals to the rebel legislators to return to the fold went unheeded.

In the Assembly, amid pandemonium, the Speaker called upon the Chief Minister to table the confidence motion three times; the Congress members were protesting against his announcement recognising Mr. Kumaraswamy as JDLP leader.

Mr. Kumaraswamy claimed before the Governor on January 19 that he enjoyed the support of 128 legislators.

The Assembly proceedings were delayed inordinately, as a series of in-camera meetings between the top Congress leaders and Mr. Gowda was held. All-India Congress Committee general secretary in charge of Karnataka affairs A.K. Antony termed the political crisis "a calculated coup" to dislodge the Government. While Mr. Gowda was in close contact with Mr. Antony and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the Kumaraswamy group of the JD (S) stayed in touch with BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu.

Sources in the Raj Bhavan said that soon after the House was adjourned the Governor invited legal experts for consultations. There are two options before him - recommend the dismissal of the Dharam Singh-led Government on the ground that the Chief Minister had not tabled the motion of confidence; or direct the Speaker to convene a session of the legislature again to enable the Chief Minister to table another motion.

The Chief Minister claimed that he was not given a fair chance and that he was keen on tabling the confidence motion. "How is it established that I have lost the majority and that my Government is reduced to a minority? It is a constitutional crisis."

Mr. Antony said the JD (S) had betrayed the Congress. Mr. Gowda sent a sealed envelope to him reportedly suggesting that Mr. Dharam Singh be asked to resign and fresh discussions be held between the parties on power sharing.

Earlier in the day, the Congress yielded to all JD (S) conditions including power sharing on the Maharashtra pattern, with the sole intention of keeping the BJP out.

Sources in the JD (S) told The Hindu that Mr. Gowda opted to quit following his son's stubborn stance to go with the BJP. He also gave up making further appeals to Mr. Kumaraswamy and the rebel legislators. He had set a deadline to the legislators to fall in line and meet him at the residence of his other son, H.D. Revanna, Minister for Public Works and Energy. However, no one turned up.

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