KARNATAKA

Congress leaders from Tumkur admitted to Janata Dal (S)

BANGALORE, FEB. 26. The Janata Dal (Secular) received a fillip to its preparations for the coming elections today when a number of Congress leaders from Tumkur district led by the former MLC and president of the Karnataka State Cooperative Apex Bank, K.N. Rajanna, and his wife, Shantala, President of the Tumkur Zilla Panchayat, joined the party along with a large number of their supporters.

The former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (S) President, H.D. Deve Gowda, who welcomed the new entrants, told presspersons that the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, going by the charges being levelled against him, had joined hands to end his political career. He said that he would continue to fight corruption and strive for the welfare of farmers whose lands had been taken over "in the name of" land acquisition for projects.

Mr. Deve Gowda said that neither he nor his family members had made any remittance under the Voluntary Disclosure Scheme of the Income Tax Department. He said: "These charges are being made against me and my family to indicate that I am also corrupt. All these charges have suddenly cropped up after I started exposing the (alleged) corrupt practices of the Congress Government. Despite the Karnataka High Court quashing the petitions against me, a special leave petition has been filed in the Supreme Court after a gap of 18 months. I am willing to face any inquiry pertaining to the corruption charges levelled against me. Earlier, they said I had amassed over Rs. 50 crore. Now they are alleging that I have over Rs. 500 crore."

He said that if the Janata Dal (S) was voted to power, its government would form a special team to investigate charges related to acquisition of agricultural lands for projects and establish a special court to try cases. Referring to the entry of Congress leaders into the Janata Dal (S) today, he said realignment of political forces in the State had commenced in a big way, and it was not correct to say that the Congress was the only beneficiary. Political leaders were crossing over from one party to another, and this was common during elections. He claimed that many more top leaders of other parties would join the Janata Dal (S). The senior leaders of the All- India Progressive Janata Dal (AIPJD), including Basavaraj Horatti, H. Shivappa, and H.S. Shivashankar, were expected to join the Janata Dal (S) shortly. A former member of the Karnataka Public Service Commission, Sharadamma, also joined the party today. Mr. Rajanna was denied the Congress ticket for the Legislative Council elections held recently.

Mr. Deve Gowda said the Janata Dal (S) would contest all the 28 Lok Sabha and the 224 Assembly seats in the State.