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60 legislators back Prakash as chief of Janata Dal (S) Legislature Party

Friday 5 August 2005

Special Correspondent

Deve Gowda rejects BJP’s proposal, to stand by his commitment to Congress

Prakash blames crisis on `mischief mongers’ New leader to make efforts to retain Siddaramaiah in party

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NEW RESPONSIBILITY: The new Janata Dal (Secular) Legislature Party leader, M.P. Prakash, with the party President, H.D. Deve Gowda, when he called on the latter at his residence on Thursday. - PTI

BANGALORE: The Janata Dal (Secular) on Thursday won the first stage of the battle against the rebel leader and Deputy Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah, by successfully ousting him from the leadership of its legislature party with a majority of the party legislators unanimously electing the Minister for Revenue, M.P. Prakash, in his place.

At a simple function held at the official residence of Mr. Prakash, the President of the State unit of the Janata Dal (S), N. Thippanna, announced the election of the new leader in the presence of 60 of the 66 legislators of the party and a large gathering of party activists. At a meeting of the legislature party on Monday, Mr. Prakash was elected the leader but the announcement was delayed owing to the legislature session.

Commitment

In yet another development, the President of the Janata Dal (S) and former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, rejected the proposal of the State BJP to align itself with his party in forming an alternative government in the State. Mr. Deve Gowda made it clear that he has given a firm commitment to the Congress President, Sonia Gandhi, and the Janata Dal (S) will stand by that.

Delicate exercise

The next stage of the battle in the Janata Dal (S) pertaining to the removal of Mr. Siddaramaiah, the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister, H.C. Mahadevappa, and the Minister for Textiles, Satish Jharkiholi, from the Council of Ministers is in the court of the Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh.

On receiving a formal letter from the newly elected Janata Dal (S) Legislature Party leader seeking changes in the Ministry, the Chief Minister will have to drop the three of them. Mr. Prakash is expected to call on the Chief Minister on the latter’s return from a personal trip to Hyderabad on Friday.

Sources in the Chief Minister’s secretariat told The Hindu that the removal of the three Ministers is in itself expected to be a delicate exercise and also time consuming. The Chief Minister armed with the letter from the Janata Dal (S) Legislature Party leader has to first seek their resignations.

In case, they refuse, he has to convene a meeting of the Council of Ministers and call upon its members, including those of the Congress, to send in their resignation letters and thereafter selectively send those of Mr. Siddaramaiah and the two others to the Governor for his acceptance.

If the three Ministers remain adamant, the Chief Minister will then be compelled to exercise the option of dismissing them from the Ministry. Mr. Prakash will take over as Deputy Chief Minister only after this exercise is completed and this is expected to take another two days. The State Cabinet is expected to meet here on Friday. The Janata Dal (S) leadership has not yet finalised the three replacements and also the changes in the portfolios of some of the Ministers. Mr. Deve Gowda said the Hubli convention of the backward classes, Dalits and minorities, which was organised by Mr. Siddaramaiah and others, has served as an "eye opener" not merely to the Janata Dal (S) but also to the Congress.

"I would be happy if it could serve the Congress well since the Congress President is keen on eliminating the fundamentalist forces. If Mr. Siddaramaiah is keen on strengthening the Janata Dal (S) then we are ready to draft him for party work. Let us attempt at working for the betterment of the backward classes with his partnership."

Earlier, Mr. Prakash stated that some "mischief mongers" in the Congress along with some others had created problems for the Janata Dal (S) and that he will try his best to retain Mr. Siddaramaiah and others in the Janata Dal mainstream. Later in the day, Mr. Siddaramaiah went ahead with the Janata Dal (S) Legislature Party meeting which he had summoned.

See online : The Hindu

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