Bangalore/New Delhi: The coalition Karnataka government is tottering after JD (S) chief H D Devegowda told BJP president Rajnath Singh on Friday evening that power would not be transferred to his party.
Gowda, a former prime minister, told Singh in New Delhi that the BJP had humiliated his son, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, and the political affairs committee of JD (S) had therefore decided against transferring power. The decision formally ends the power-sharing agreement reached between the two parties 20 months ago.
Gowda, a week ago, pulled out of talks with Singh after alleging that BJP leaders in Karnataka had filed a murder case against Kumaraswamy. The two leaders were to meet on Saturday but the meeting was abruptly rescheduled.
Gowda’s decision may lead to mid-term poll looms in the state. Ignoring the fact that 17 BJP ministers had submitted their resignations to him, Kumaraswamy held a Cabinet meeting of only his party ministers and decided to hold a session of the legislature on Oct 18 to prove his majority.
The BJP reacted sharply to this decision saying the JD (S) should hand over power to it by Saturday evening or it would go ahead with plans to ensure an early assembly poll.
The party may also consider directing all its 79 members in the assembly to quit to force dissolution of the house before October 18. "All these are to be discussed with our central leaders and decided upon," said Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader B S Yediyurappa, reacting to Kumaraswamy's move to convene the legislature session.
Kumaraswamy and Yediyurappa flew to Delhi later in the day to talk to their party leaders.
Yediyurappa told reporters in Delhi that he and other state leaders had told the party's central leadership that the issue should resolved by Saturday evening one way or the other and it should not be prolonged.
"We have set a deadline of Saturday evening for ourselves to resolve the issue and told our central leaders of it.
"If the problem persists, then we will work out plans to go to the people for their verdict," he said.
The JD (S) justified holding the cabinet meeting in the absence of the 17 BJP ministers, who stayed away as they had given their resignations on Tuesday to force the chief minister to honour his word on power transfer.
Kumaraswamy was to hand over the chief minister's post to the BJP on Oct 3 as per the agreement he had reached with it in February 2006 when forming the JD-S-BJP coalition government.
Congress leaders in Karnataka, too, have asked for a floor test for the government. The Congress plan is to "wait and watch", as the next elections are due only in May 2009.