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Sonia to meet Gowda
Karnataka crisis shadow on AICC session
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

Rajiv Gandhi Nagar, January 21
Congress president Sonia Gandhi is likely to speak to Janata Dal (S) leader H.D.Deve Gowda after the ongoing AICC session in an effort to broker peace with the estranged coalition partner and save the Dharam Singh government in Karnataka.

Mrs Gandhi’s proposed talks with Mr Gowda will top the behind-the-scene efforts currently underway to seek a compromise with the JD(S) in order to block the BJP from getting a foothold in a southern state.

“There is every possibility that the Congress president will talk to Mr Gowda after this session. At the same time, Mr Gowda may be able to prevail upon his legislators ……Mr Dharam Singh is confident that he will survive the vote of confidence,” Congress spokesperson Ambika Soni told presspersons here this evening.

Despite best efforts by the Congress to play down the Karnataka developments, the shadow of the ongoing crisis in the neighbouring state is looming large on the three-day AICC plenary session, which began here today with the extended Congress Working Committee (CWC) discussing the four resolutions which are to be adopted at the plenary. This was evident from the tone and tenor of Mrs Soni’s press briefing which was dominated by questions on the Karnataka crisis.

The party is particularly embarrassed as this session, the first after the formation of the Congress-led UPA government, was meant to showcase the Congress success at running a coalition. The developments in Karnataka have not only showed up the Congress as a poor coalition manager and that instead of keeping secular forces intact, it had driven a secular party like the JD (S) to join hands with the BJP. Defensive Congress leaders, were, however, at pains to point out how the party has been managing coalition governments in Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir and Maharashtra.

While the Congress leadership is attempting to salvage the situation, Karnataka Congressmen are privately fuming at former Prime Minister H.D.Deve Gowda for encouraging his son to pull down the Dharam Singh government, describing his move as “a cold-blooded sabotage.” They said this government was formed at Mr Gowda’s insistence and with the express purpose of keeping out communal forces. “But look what he has done...he calls himself secular but has no qualms about joining hands with the BJP,” remarked a bitter Congress leader.

In fact, state leaders have virtually resigned themselves to the formation of a JD (S)-BJP government, stating that the situation has spiraled out of their control. They are even suggesting that Mr Dharam Singh should step down on his own as a defeat of the confidence vote appears inevitable.

Spewing venom at Deve Gowda, senior Karnataka Congressmen accused him of portraying their party as the villain even as he was hobnobbing with the BJP for the last eight months. Stating that Mr Gowda had not proved to trustworthy ally, they said he had a track record of playing “betrayer”, citing how he had ditched Ramkrishna Hegde, Sitaram Kesri and even P.V.Narasimha Rao.

This private outpouring of anger by state leaders was at variance with the party’s public position. Mrs Soni sought to paper over this crisis, saying such problems do come up in a coalition government but can also be resolved through discussions, stating that the Congress is going by Mr Gowda’s repeated statements that he will never have any truck with communal forces.


The man who could be Chief Minister
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, January 21
He may be the son of the “humble farmer” but unlike his father, the man who could be Chief Minister of Karnataka has never indulged in grassroot politics. But he does share traits in common with his father. Mr HD Kumaraswamy, like his father Mr HD Deve Gowda has a penchant for astrologers and “tantriks” and is a superb organization man.

In fact Bangalore circles say astrology may have been responsible for Kumaraswamy’s bid for power. Whether this is true or not, Kumaraswamy chose the right time to make his move after having done his homework brazenly under everyone’s nose.

He succeeded because no one took him seriously, due to the overbearing control of his father over the party. Kumaraswamy made even more strident threats than his father as working president of the Janata Dal (Secular) and had been meeting state BJP leaders during the last few months.

Kumaraswamy’s daring acts have caused the party embarrassment earlier also. Like his father he is not one to take things lying down and he was instrumental in the expulsion of senior JD(S) leader and then Finance Minister from the party after the latter did not agree with his views on governance.

He opposed bigwigs in the Kannada film industry who had succeeded in imposing a moratorium on the screening of new films made in other languages. Kumaraswamy took this step despite being a Kannada film producer himself. He has produced five films, three of which have been super hits.

Kumaraswamy entered politics in 1996 by contesting the Kanakapura Lok Sabha seat on the strength of his father’s image. He won. Following this he sought reelection from Kanakapura in 1998 and lost. He next tried his luck from the Sathanur Assembly seat in 1999 but lost there too.

In 2004, the breakaway JD(S) leader was elected to the state Assembly from Ramanagaram. However, this win did not help him in getting a prominent ministership with his elder brother H D Revanna getting the Public Works and Energy Ministry. However, he got himself appointed working president of the JD(S) and initiated his own agenda.

Even though the party lost out in the Zilla Panchayat elections because of splitting of votes as a result of candidates put up by friend turned foe Siddaramaiah, he has been successful in rallying young legislators who had become crestfallen after the losses in the panchayat elections.

These legislators are not keen on a midterm poll and were uncomfortable with the new-found confidence of the Congress and wanted to teach it a lesson.Back

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