THE Karnataka unit of the Congress is in a fix over the decision of the Janata Dal (Secular) to opt again for an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form the government in the State. This alliance is expected to have been borne out of an open understanding between the two parties unlike the January 2006 secret pact between H.D. Kumaraswamy of the JD(S) and the Chief Minister-in-waiting, B.S. Yeddyurappa, of the BJP.
It is common knowledge that a section of the Congress leaders in Karnataka had made a desperate attempt to woo a major section of the JD(S) legislators to form the government. But the official version of the Congress is that right from day one of the political crisis in Karnataka, when the JD(S) refused to hand over charge to the BJP, it has been keen on the dissolution of the 12th Legislative Assembly to pave the way for a fresh mandate.
The Congress is keen that the State, which has been under Presidents Rule since October 9, should continue to be so until the elections. It feels that since considerable acrimony had pushed the JD(S) and the BJP apart, they cannot provide a stable government. The 12-point dictum laid out by the former Prime Minister and national president of the JD(S), H.D. Deve Gowda, to extend support to the BJP has come about as a morale booster to the Congress, which believes that the BJP will never approve the conditions.
Speaking to Frontline, M. Mallikarjuna Kharge, president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), said the present alliance between the BJP and the JD(S) was nothing but an unholy alliance. They have come together for the sake of power and this has been visible from the very outset. Hence we will oppose this alliance tooth and nail, he said.
He said it was improper to compare the present political situation in Karnataka with that in 1989, when the late S.R. Bommai sought to prove his majority on the floor of the legislature, or that in 2005 when Nitish Kumar wanted to be invited to form the government in Bihar. Hence the judgments of the Supreme Court in the S.R. Bommai case in 1994 and the Bihar case in 2005 cannot be applied here, according to him.
Here, Kharge said, two parties which had fought bitterly for several weeks, accusing each other of cheating and foul play, had come together merely for the sake of power. He said the media advertisements given by the JD(S) over the past fortnight would vouch for that. They poured out all their venom against the BJP in the advertisements and explained why power was not transferred to the BJP. By any yardstick they cannot provide a stable government. The Karnataka Congress party and the partys central leader in charge of the State, Prithviraj Chauhan, have been pressing on this point to the Governor, he said.
Kharges poser is if the JD(S) was keen on continuing its alliance with the BJP why then did it pull out of the relationship in the first place. He said Kumaraswamy should have handed over charge to the BJP on October 2, as reportedly agreed to by the two parties 20 months ago when they formed the government. Why all this drama? It is quite obvious that the two parties do not see eye to eye and in the fitness of things would it be right for the Governor to invite them to form the government? I am confident that the Governor, who is a stickler for constitutional guidelines, will not invite them, he said.
He said the interests of the State would be served best by opting for elections. Both the Congress and the BJP had told Governor Rameshwar Thakur over three weeks ago that they were interested in the dissolution of the Assembly and the holding of elections.
On the BJP-JD(S) producing 129 legislators before the Governor in their quest to form the government, the KPCC president said it spoke of the horse-trading that was going on. They blame the Congress for indulging in horse-trading. The fact is that these two parties have indulged in horse-trading. Why should a political party opt to keep its legislators at a secret location a resort? They did so apparently to prevent their legislators from crossing over to another political formation and to ensure that the legislators went by the dictates of the party leadership, he said.S. Rajendran