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Hiccups in Karnataka
JD(S), BJP try to mollify Prakash
* BJP claims support of 125 MLAs
* Kumaraswamy carts MLAs away
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, October 28
With dissident Janata Dal (Secular) leader M.P. Prakash emerging as the only hurdle in the formation of a BJP-JD (S) government in Karnataka, the Gowda family today tried unsuccessfully to mollify him and also persuaded its Chief Minister-aspirant and senior BJP leader B.S. Yeddyruppa to bring him around.

Even as the move to build bridges with the dissident leader continued for most of the day, former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy decided not to take any chances and carted his flock of 40 legislators in a bus to a luxury resort on the outskirts of the city.

The BJP, meanwhile, upped the ante to pressurise Governor Rameshwar Thakur to accept its claim to government formation by announcing that it had the support of 125 legislators in the 224 strong house. Yediyurappa made this announcement after a meeting of the legislature group during which individual letters of support were also obtained from all legislators. Yediyurappa also announced that all JD (S) and BJP legislators would meet the Governor tomorrow after a joint meeting of their legislature groups to convince him of the majority enjoyed by the combine.

Earlier in the day, both the JD (S) and the BJP pressed the panic button after news filtered in that Prakash was scheduled to meet Governor Rameshwar Thakur and claim support of a majority section of the JD (S) legislature party. Prakash, in a statement, also claimed that the letters of support presented by the JD (S) were false. His supporters claimed that the letters were written on signed blank papers, which were collected during a party meeting on October 5. Prakash has also announced that he would hold a meeting with party MLA s tomorrow morning before chalking out his next plan of action.

JD (S) spokesman Y.S.V. Datta took up the gauntlet on behalf of the party today by saying Prakash represented the moral face of the party and that the recent developments were part of a misinformation campaign as well as communication gap. This was followed by Kumaraswamy inviting Prakash as well as legislators close to him to participate in a meeting of the JD(S) legislature party scheduled to be held at a resort in the evening. BJP Chief Minister-aspirant Yediyurappa also drove down to Prakash’s residence to seek his cooperation and also invited him to join his ministry and guide the new government.

Prakash, however, continued to hold consultations with his close aides on his next move. According to sources, the Prakash group was still trying to muster enough numbers to join hands with the Congress. Prakash said efforts to form a government in Karnataka would continue as the legislators did not want to face elections. When asked whether it would mean a tie-up with the Congress, he said, “It does not mean so. I will discuss the issue with the legislators and formulate a strategy.”

Any split in the JD (S) legislature party looks unlikely by the hour with sources close to Kumaraswamy saying he has obtained individual letters of support from 41 of the 56 party legislators. The Prakash camp suffered a setback today with a few legislators, led by Mahima Patel, returning to the Kumaraswamy camp. Mahima Patel said he had supported Prakash for the cause of the Lingayat community but now maintains that since the JD (S) had offered to support the candidature of B.S. Yeddyruppa, also a Lingayat, he has no grouse against the party.

However, sources said it might still take some time before a JD (S)-BJP government could be installed in the state, as Karnataka is presently under President’s rule and the Centre has to revoke this before any further step can be taken towards government formation.

Meanwhile, the Congress continued to maintain that there was no reason for the Governor to allow a JD (S)-BJP government. Former Chief Minister N.Dharam Singh said the party would oppose any move to invite the BJP to form a government, as Deve Gowda had himself written a letter to the President, Prime Minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, urging that the assembly be dissolved after the fall of the Kumaraswamy-led government.

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