Crisis grips JD-S over tie-up with BJP, poll debacle

Bangalore, Aug 28 (IANS) The Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) Wednesday faced the prospect of losing the tag of recognised opposition party in the Karnataka assembly to the BJP as a party legislator threatened to quit the house.

The legislator, Mallikarjun Khuba from Basavakalyan in the northern Bidar district, submitted the resignation letter to JD-S president and former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda here Wednesday. Basavakalyan is about 730 km from Bangalore.

Khuba told reporters that he would submit the resignation to Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa unless he gets a satisfactory response from Gowda and his son and leader of the opposition in the assembly H.D. Kumaraswamy to issues he has raised.

Apart from expressing unhappiness over "recent developments" in the party, Khuba has also said that he was upset at not being made the chief whip of the party in the assembly.

If Khuba carries out his threat, the JD-S strength in the assembly will be reduced to 39 and the position of leader of the opposition will go to the Bharatiya Janata Party as it has 40 members.

Khuba's threat has come even as speculation is rife in political circles in Bangalore that several JD-S legislators were planning to quit the party and join the ruling Congress as they were upset over the tie-up with the BJP.

The JD-S and BJP had both won 40 seats each in the assembly in the May 5 elections which brought the Congress back to power in the state with 122 seats in the 225-member assembly.

The remaining seats were won by smaller parties and Independents.

Khuba's move came on a day Gowda met senior JD-S leaders to consider revamping the party following the drubbing it received in the Aug 21 bypoll to Bangalore Rural and Mandya Lok Sabha seats, both considered its bastion. Mandya is about 80 kms from Bangalore.

Gowda told reporters after the meeting that he will talk to Khuba to sort out the issues raised by the legislator.

The Congress trounced the JD-S with D.K. Suresh bagging the Bangalore Rural seat defeating Kumaraswamy's wife Anita by over 137,000 votes while popular Kannada actress Ramya won in Mandya beating C.S. Puttaraju.

The loss of Bangalore Rural was particularly hard for Gowda family as Kumaraswamy had won the seat in 2009 by around 130,000 votes.

The bypolls were held as Kumaraswamy and his party colleague N. Cheluvarayaswamy who represented Mandya quit the Lok Sabha on getting elected to Karnataka assembly.

The drubbing came in spite of BJP backing the JDS, a tie-up that has upset many in the JDS.

Following the debacle Kumaraswamy offered to quit both as state JDS chief and leader of the opposition in the assembly.

Gowda said Wednesday that he has accepted his son's resignation from the state JD-S chief's post and a new head would be appointed by Monday.

He has left to JD-S assembly members, who are meeting here Friday, to decide whether they want Kumaraswamy to continue as leader of the opposition or accept his resignation from that post also.

The tie up had extended to Aug 22 bypolls to three legislative council seats also with JDS not fielding any candidate.

However, here too the arrangement failed to score as the Congress won two seats, Mysore and Dharwad while an Independent romped home in Chitradurga.

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