Special Correspondent

BANGALORE: The meeting between the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Janata Dal (Secular) State unit president H.D. Kumaraswamy in New Delhi had evoked good response from senior State Congress leaders and they expressed a desire that the latter would extend support to the UPA to form the Government to strengthen secular forces.

KPCC president R.V. Deshpande, the latest to hail the meeting after S.M. Krishna, MP, and Mallikarjun Kharge, Member, Congress Working Committee, told presspersons that there was a need to check the growth of the Bharatiya Janata Party. But, he made it clear that such a friendship would not wreck the BJP Government in the state. Toppling game was not good and the BJP had 115 members in the Legislative Assembly, he said.

Reacting to the BJP State unit president D.V. Sadananda Gowda’s statement on the issue, Mr. Deshpande said that already squabbles had started in the BJP with ten of its MLAs reportedly holding a meeting to demand a position for M.P. Renukacharya, MLA. He said the Congress would not encourage any attempt to topple the Yeddyurappa Government and instead tackle the issue in the legislature, if a constitutional crisis arose, being the main Opposition party.

Congress was a national party and only the party high command could handle such a situation and not individuals like him and Mr. Kumaraswamy, Mr. Deshpande said.

Asked whether the UPA would seek the support of the Third Front to form the Government at the centre, he hoped that the Janata Dal (Secular) would support it. He predicted that the Congress would win 14 to 16 seats in the State.

He charged Mr. Yeddyurappa with weaning away Opposition MLAs by offering power and pelf to them and termed it an insult to democracy. It would boomerang on the BJP, he said.

It was a shame that the BJP, which claimed that it was a national party, but had no candidates to field in the just concluded elections.

Asked whether it was safe to bank on the Janata Dal (S) even after bitter experiences with it, Mr. Deshpande said the former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda was like a father to him. Mr. Gowda had been maintaining his opposition to the BJP and the Congress respected him, he said.