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Home > News > Report

Up for grabs in K'taka -- M P Prakash

Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore | December 16, 2007 21:30 IST

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It was a blow that came for the Janata Dal-Secular at the worst possible moment. Experienced leader M P Prakash parted ways with the JD-S at a time when it is facing rebellion within its ranks and elections are just around the corner. The question now is how much damage has Prakash's exit made to the party?

H D Deve Gowda and his sons did everything in the book to prevent Prakash from leaving the party. However, their attempts were unsuccessful and Prakash stuck to his guns.

It is a known fact that Prakash has a great amount of control over the Lingayat lobby and also was a strong man in the Bellary belt. The JD-S had antagonized the Lingayat community when it stabbed Bharatiya Janata Party leader B S Yeddyurappa, also a Lingayat, in the back at the last minute.

This community controls a large chunk of the votes in the state and the only hope for the JD-S to prevent a complete backlash from this community was to retain Prakash who is also a Lingayat in the party.

Another cause for concern for the JD-S is from the Bellary belt in Karnataka. The word Bellary is read as nightmare by the Gowda clan, as it were the leaders from this belt who caused lot of trouble for the family. First it was BJP leader Janardhan Reddy who threatened to expose Rs 1000 crore mining scam by former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy. Next it was Sriramulu, also a BJP leader from the same belt, who leveled attempt to murder charges against Kumaraswamy.

The BJP has managed to strengthen its ground in the Bellary belt after these incidents. The only way for the JD-S to save its face in this belt was through Prakash who also hails from the same area. As long was Prakash was around, the JD-S could have prevented a backlash in this belt. Prakash being a local could have prevented a backlash against the JD-S in the Bellary belt.

Prakash, at the moment, is not too worried about these factors and will look to stabilize his political position in the state. He says that he would take a decision on either joining a party or floating a new one in a couple of days. He feels that the days ahead of him are bright and there is long way still to go.

Prakash says he was opposed to the autocratic rule within the JD-S and was looking for a party, which believed in value-based politics. Gowda and sons have none but themselves to blame for this fiasco. They reacted too late in this issue. They thought that Prakash did not have the numbers and hence would not quit. However, Prakash surprised them when he took 20 leaders along with him.

H D Deve Gowda feels that their chances in the elections are not ruined. He says people of the state will decide and he is confident of putting up a good show in the elections.

His son, Kumaraswamy, who had made several attempts to coax Prakash into staying on in the party claims that the latter's exit will make no difference to the party prospects. He, however, admits that Prakash's exit was a great loss. Prakash had advised me on how to run a government and take key decisions, Kumaraswamy says.

The Congress is now trying to bank in miseries of the JD-S. State Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge says that they are open to talks and if Prakash is acceptable to the Congress ideology, then he is most welcome. There are several in the BJP too who are trying to rope in Prakash.

Another worry for the JD-S is that they lack experienced leaders in their party. Prakash is considered to be one of the best orators and he was the only person capable of defending the party and its decisions on the floor of the House.

However, for Prakash it would be better if joined either the JD-U or the Bahujan Samajwadi Party. Prakash had made it clear that he was fed up with the autocratic rule in the JD-S. This meant that he had no chance of growing any further in the party and the highest posts were reserved for the Gowda clan. He could face similar problems if he joined the Congress or the BJP.

The BJP cannot let go of Yeddyurappa and the likes for new entrants. Even the Congress, Prakash cannot occupy any position of importance thanks to the new All India Congress Committee norm, which bars newcomers from occupying key posts for the first three years.

At present, Prakash is weighing both his options of either joining the BSP or the JD-U. Sources told that JD-U leader Sharad Yadav is already in touch with Prakash and is trying to bring him into the party. The BSP on its part too is confident.