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|October 13, 1999||
Karnataka BJP pleased to be rid of JD-U
M D Riti in Bangalore
They may not have burst crackers, thrown coloured powder, or celebrated the event in any other manner. But the Karnataka unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party was delighted by the break-up of its uneasy alliance with the Janata Dal (United) in the state. No state BJP leader was willing to go on record to this effect, but the undercurrents were obvious.
As state party chief B S Yediyurappa has told rediff.com so often, this was an alliance forced upon the BJP in Karnataka by its central leadership. The state unit felt that it was just another round of the longstanding Hegde-Deve Gowda feud. As Hegde wanted to vanquish H D Deve Gowda decisively, he split the Janata Dal in Karnataka and forced the former prime minister to battle it out at the hustings on his own.
Hegde achieved his goal. But the BJP in Karnataka, to the last man, blames the alliance for its own abysmal performance in the poll. How else could a party that picked up more than a dozen parliamentary seats in the state last time get so few now? After all, a pro-Congress wave could not have been generated so quickly and decisively.
Meanwhile, the JD-U legislature party met today with former chief minister J H Patel, who was beaten badly at the polls himself by BJP rebel Vadnal Rajanna, in the chair and, dismayed at Hegde being denied a ministerial berth at the Centre, announced the end of the alliance with the BJP.
Cynics in the BJP, however, see this as just a bit of mutual back-scratching. Hegde had offered Patel the alliance as a straw to a drowning man. It was common knowledge at the time that Patel's image in Karnataka was at its nadir. His only hope of winning was to jump on to the BJP bandwagon. Instead, the BJP too sank with him.
Naturally, the BJP argues, Patel would back Hegde now. The JD-U legislature party even adopted a resolution saying Hegde would choose its new floor leader, mimicking the Congress tradition of leaving it all to the 'high command'.
Some disgruntled members of the JD-U themselves point out that the real beneficiaries of Hegde's folly are Ram Vilas Paswan and Sharad Yadav, who have now been inducted into the Union ministry.
Besides, they point out, Hegde never did anything much other than promote himself as commerce minister. He never got a ministerial berth for any of the other MPs from his party, the Lok Shakti. Nor did he ensure representation for North Karnataka, which is supposed to be loyal to him. This time, he could have tried for a berth for Ramesh Jiganajigi instead of lobbying covertly for himself, they insist.
RELATED REPORT: Fernandes blamed for Hegde's exclusion
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