Special Correspondent

Bangalore: President of the Janata Dal (United) State unit B. Somasekhar on Wednesday defended the decision of his central leaders to be part of the National Democratic Alliance led by the Bharatiya Janata Party and said that it was aimed at injecting an element of secularism and constitutionalism into the BJP.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the unit leaders and office-bearers, Mr. Somasekhar, however, said that the JD(U) would neither beg before it to share the seats in the Assembly elections with them or say no to it, if it came forward with such an arrangement in the State. His party’s entry into the NDA would be to dilute the kind of politics the BJP was practising, he added.

The former Minister said that it was decided to constitute manifesto, election and divisional conference and campaign committees in the State to prepare the party for the coming elections. Party leaders Michael Fernandes and Nazeer Ahmed would head the first two committees, while he would head the third one, Mr. Somasekhar added.

In a press release, G.K.C. Reddy, general secretary; V. Venkatesh, former MP, and G.V. Ramachandraiah, president, Backward Classes cell, criticised the state Congress leaders for “masquerading” AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi as the prince which was reminiscent of the dark days of Sanjay Gandhi.

A band of senior Congress leaders, including Union Ministers, were camping in the State spending crores and Mr. Kharge has taken over the task of making Mr. Gandhi`s tour a success only proved that the party was back to its days of sycophancy during the emergency, they added.

They demanded a clarification from Mr. Gandhi on the Hogenakkal water project, diverting power to Tamil Nadu from the grid meant for Karnataka and the delay in according classical status to Kannada.