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Dharam Singh exudes confidence of completing full term

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Staff Reporter

'Kharge's meeting with Krishna was a courtesy call'

The people of the State have endorsed my position Tie-ups in panchayats will be finalised after Sonia Gandhi's approval Antony will provide guidance on coalition affairs

BANGALORE: Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh on Monday downplayed Saturday's meeting between Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President M. Mallikarjun Kharge and Maharashtra Governor S.M. Krishna, and said the success of the Congress in 14 of 27 zilla panchayats in the elections has proved that he has consolidated his position.

Speaking to presspersons, Mr. Dharam Singh dismissed Mr. Kharge's meeting with Mr. Krishna as a "courtesy call".

He had earlier said that it is for the party High Command to decide whether to remove him from the post. No party leader from the State could do so, he had said.

Asked about other Congress leaders' meeting with Mr. Krishna's at the latter's residence here, Mr. Dharam Singh said it was natural for members of the party to want to meet Mr. Krishna, who is a former Chief Minister with over 40 years of experience in politics.

Asked whether he thought whether there would be political developments from the meeting of Mr. Kharge and Mr. Krishna, he said nothing should be read into it.

"I am sitting firmly in my chair as Chief Minister, and the people of the State have endorsed my position," he said and exuded confidence that he will complete his full term of five years. Mr. Kharge has denied that he discussed State politics with Mr. Krishna. He has said it is up to Congress President Sonia Gandhi to decide about any change of guard in the State.

Meeting

Mr. Dharam Singh said that on Wednesday, he will hold a discussion with All-India Congress Committee members A.K.Antony and Ahmed Patel in New Delhi on the issue of possible alignments in 11 zilla panchayats where no party has secured a clear majority. The Congress will finalise tie-ups on Thursday after Ms. Gandhi approves them. About his opinion on an alignment with the Janata Dal (S) in the 11 zilla panchayats, he said it is not right for an individual to speak on the issue. It is for the party High Command to decide, he added.

Mr. Dharam Singh said Mr. Anthony is a veteran Congress leader and former Chief Minister who has the experience of leading coalition governments. The leader from Kerala knows the problems in running a coalition government and will guide him, Mr. Singh added.

About Janata Dal (S) President H.D. Deve Gowda's meeting with former Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee in New Delhi, the Chief Minister said it was a courtesy call.

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