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Home > News > Report

The hidden brokers of peace in Karnataka

Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore | November 11, 2007 16:16 IST
Last Updated: November 11, 2007 16:35 IST

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Coverage: Political Crisis in Karnataka
Deve Gowda, Kumaraswamy, Yeddyurappa, Yeshwant Sinha... these names have been doing the rounds prominently in Karnataka's political circles since the past one month, thanks to the worst political crisis that befell the state.

The Janata Dal-Secular and the Bharatiya Janata Party came together 21 months back, took everyone by surprise and formed the government in Karnataka. However, the JDS decided to ditch the BJP at the end of 20 months and said they would not transfer power.

Today, both parties have buried the hatchet, and are all set to return to power. There was mudslinging, politicking, opportunism and all other possible things that took place to the run up to the formation of the government.

In the public eye, it seemed as though leaders were talking to each other in person or through the media. In reality, leaders refused to even see eye-to-eye and utilized the services of a mediator to do all the talking. What happened behind the scenes? How did the allies mend the fences? spoke to the official mediators of the JDS and the BJP to find out.

S Dore Raju, an advocate, was one of the many mediators who had to work behind the scenes to undertake the task of patching up things between the two parties.

"It was work and nothing but work all day and all night. The netas (leaders) acted like children and on most occasions made unreasonable demands. It was a horrid experience coupled with a great deal of turmoil," Dore Raju said.

The work of the mediators began the day JDS decided not to hand over power to the BJP.

"The leaders were refusing to talk to each other. My job was to carry and convey the messages of the respective leaders of both parties. One night at the JDS camp, I was given a long list of complaints against the BJP. I had to carry this list to them who sent me back with their own list of complaints against the JDS. This went on for a couple of days and then things went out of hand. Both parties started trading charges against each other through the media, which made matters even worse."

Another mediator, who did not want to be identified, said: "There were people who were making statements despite not being authorized to do so. This only made us commence the process all over again. From Gowda's house I had to go and talk to Kumaraswamy about what the BJP thought on the formation of government and he used to send me with
his message. This went on for over a week until the JDS said in clear terms that it will not transfer power. The BJP went ahead and withdrew support and things came to a sudden standstill."

Dore Raju said the JDS wanted Kumaraswamy to continue in power for some more time, but the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was against this.

"The RSS said 'a promise is a promise' and there should be no change in the earlier arrangement. Before Kumaraswamy handed over his resignation, a last ditch attempt was made and it was decided that power will be transferred as per the agreement, which even succeeded. 

"However, it was too late and the Governor decided to recommend dissolution of the House in Karnataka. It was all quiet for two weeks. The Congress was trying to enter into a pact with the JDS and was almost successful. But when the pact with the Congress failed, the JDS turned to the BJP once again and it was back to negotiations.  

"When it comes to power, all are the same. There have been times when I along with a couple of others have gone to meet senior leaders even at 2 am. We used to pass on the message and immediately leave."

Another mediator said that on most occasions the legislators did not even offer them a glass of water, as they were too busy caught up with politicking. In the eye of the public, it was JDS supreme Deve Gowda playing truant all the time and it seemed as though he was a difficult person to deal with. However, mediators feel otherwise.

"He used to give us a patient hearing. But there were times when Gowda lost his temper and just closed all doors," says Dore Raju, adding that once the chord was struck and both parties agreed to join hands once again, the next step was to parade the legislators before the Governor.

"We had to ensure that none of the legislators was answering calls on their mobiles that day, as there was always this possibility of horse trading. We had to keep all the legislators -- both JDS and BJP -- away from the city until a bus was arranged to take them to Raj Bhavan."

There were instructions from both high commands to ensure that all legislators reached Raj Bhavan and each one signs the letter of support. There were few who threw tantrums and there were others who cooperated. After taking a head count, they boarded the bus and were driven to Raj Bhavan. Once the letter of support signed by all legislators was