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JD(S) show of unity shocks a section in Congress

S. Rajendran

Deve Gowda says he is happy that everything is fine in the party

BANGALORE: The Janata Dal (Secular) on Thursday presented a picture of unity, much to the surprise of those who believed that the party is disintegrating, which eventually could lead to the collapse of the first ever coalition Government in the State.

The Deputy Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah, who convened a meeting of the Janata Dal Legislature Party on Wednesday at the directions of the former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda joined hands with the Industries Minister P.G.R. Sindhia and Revenue Minister M.P. Prakash and led the legislators to present a united face.

The show of unity came as a shock to a section in the Congress, which has been working at creating dissensions within the JD (S). For over a year, a large group of JD(S) legislators has been upset over the manner in which the Congress has been dodging the party from abiding by the Maharashtra pattern in sharing power.

Mr. Deve Gowda told The Hindu that he is happy that everything is fine in the JD(S). "Attempts were made to divide the party and we have bounced back to show that we are united and committed to secular ideals. There are minor intra-party irritants and they will be sorted out in due course. The JD(S) is a united party and is growing in strength in the State and there need not be any doubt on that," he said.

Interestingly, a group of 30 legislators, including Health and Family Welfare Minister N. Cheluvarayaswamy and Horticulture Minister R. Srinivas, under the leadership of party's State unit Working President H.D. Kumaraswamy wanted to show the Congress its displeasure over the latter keeping away from the Maharashtra pattern of sharing power. They stayed away from voting in the byelection to the Legislative Council until minutes before the closing time. While the voting time for the election was between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., the legislators reported at the booth around 3.30 p.m.

It all started around 1.30 p.m. when there was no sign of 35 JD (S) legislators. They were neither present in the Legislative Assembly nor in the Assembly lounge. Efforts to trace them proved futile. The Congress leaders got in touch with Mr. Deve Gowda, Mr. Sindhia and Mr. Prakash. But these leaders could not get in touch with the legislators concerned. Mr. Deve Gowda promised them that the JD (S) legislators will adhere to the party whip. Meanwhile, five legislators trooped into the Vidhana Soudha and they were the first to give information. They said that their legislator colleagues will arrive shortly and they will vote in favour of the Congress candidate, R.V. Venkatesh.

Mr. Kumaraswamy said a section of the legislators was in a mood to boycott the Upper House byelection since in their view the JD(S) was being forced to kneel and crawl before the Congress. He said the legislators decided to vote since they did not want to disobey Mr. Deve Gowda. "It is our commitment to secular ideals that made us vote today."He hastened to add that the JD (S) has nothing against Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh.

BJP-JD(U) united

The result of the byelection to the Legislative Council has shown that the BJP and the Janata Dal (United) have stood united in voting for M.D. Lakshminarayana who, however, was defeated.

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