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Karnataka: Of Dosti that never was

November 20, 2007

They joined hands and formed a government under the most peculiar circumstances. Their ideologies did not match, but they went ahead and assumed power, and termed it the Dosti Sarkar (friendship government).

Today, they are logger heads; and at least one of them must be singing Dost Dost Na Raha (Sangam). We are talking about B S Yeddyurappa and H D Kumaraswamy, who ended their alliance on Monday with the former tendering his resignation, as he lacked the requisite numbers to hold on to the post of Karnataka chief minister.

The Janata Dal-Secular's decision to leave their ally Bharatiya Janata Party in the lurch for a second time has not gone down well with the latter. Firstly, Yeddyurappa made several allegations against the JD-S. Then it was Kumaraswamy's turn to come on stage and counter the allegations. Let us take a look at the face-off between the two leaders.

B S Yeddyurappa (BSY): This is the worst betrayal of my life. I was cheated at the last moment.
H D Kumaraswamy (HDK): What betrayal? The JD-S had only asked him to discuss certain issues, which he did not bother to do.

BSY: They were upset that I was trying to do something good for the state. I had taken a couple of decisions as the chief minister, which they objected to.
HDK: Nobody is against development. What was the hurry is all I ask? He could have waited till he proved his majority. This was a coalition government and it is necessary that partners are consulted before any decision is taken.

BSY: As chief minister, I had announced the clearing of Below Poverty Line cards and cycles at subsidy. What was wrong? Did I have to wait to take these decisions?
HDK: Yeddyurappa should not forget that it was I who suggested both the initiatives when I was chief minister. Yeddyurappa had said that it was not possible and we had had several altercations on this issue.

BSY: In my budget as the finance minister, I had done so much good that I think the JD-S was insecure about. I had announced a loan waiver, loans at 4 per cent for farmers, banned both arrack and lottery.
HDK: When this budget was announced, I was the chief minister. Yeddyurappa had said that it is just not possible to waive loans or give loans at such a low interest and ban arrack and lottery. He said the state would reel under a financial crisis. I convened a meeting with the officials and ensured that all this was possible.

BSY: The JD-S said they would give us unconditional support and all of a sudden they seemed to have all the conditions.
HDK: You call these conditions. These were only guidelines. We were not trying to catch the BJP by the horn. If the BJP had abided by these guidelines, it would have done more good than harm to them. When the JD-S said all disputes should be resolved through the respective leaders was there anything wrong? You know what problems I faced during my tenure. I did not want Yeddyurappa to face the same problems.

BSY: Does not Kumaraswamy and his father, Deve Gowda, know the history of this country? Everything here is based on trust and despite this they wanted the BJP to sign on a document sheet stating that we abide by the conditions.
HDK: Why is he talking about the document paper? Ask him who started this trend. Before going to Raj Bhavan, it was the BJP that came out with the terms and conditions of running the government on a document sheet. They wanted us to sign on it. So what is wrong if we asked for the same?

BSY: How can the JD-S impose conditions on us? Who are they to decide on our portfolios? Why were they asking for Urban Development? What is so lucrative about the portfolio?
HDK: Yes, we did ask for Urban Development. But it was not to rob the state. We were only concerned about the people. All of you are aware that we were against the manner in which the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Project was being implemented. Over 3000 acre of land was at stake and the BJP was showing no interest in protecting it. The JD-S is
committed towards this cause and hence to prevent any misuse of land, we asked for the Urban Development portfolio.

BSY: As a chief minister, I wanted to seek Gowda's blessings as he is a senior leader and a former prime minister of the country. He told me to meet Kumaraswamy first and then go to him. What was the need to behave like this?
HDK: This is being blown out of proportion. Why is he making such a big issue? When the government was first formed it was the two of us who discussed everything. Now why was he trying to avoid me? What about his own party leaders who did not even bother calling on my father when they were in Bangalore?

BSY: What was the need to issue the whip against me?
HDK: Till the last minute, I was hopeful that Yeddyurappa would sit across the table and talk. Certain conditions were necessary to be abided by. But that did not seem to happen and it was in the interest of the people of Karnataka that the whip had to be issued.

Image: In happier times -- JD-S leader H D Kumaraswamy with BJP's B S Yeddyurappa.
Reportage: Vicky Nanjappa | Photograph: Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty Images

Don't Miss: Complete Coverage of Karnataka Crisis







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