Cong foresees assembly polls in Karnataka

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New Delhi, Oct 6 (UNI) Congress president Sonia Gandhi today stepped into the Karnataka scene even as the party appeared to be gearing up for early assembly elections in the wake of the fall of the BJP-JD(U) government.

Ms Gandhi held consultations with senior party leaders, including Mr Prithviraj Chavan, AICC general secretary in charge of Karnataka affairs.

Mr Chavan told reporters that the Congress would announce its stand only after the BJP had met the Karnataka Governor and formally withdrawn its support to the H D Kumaraswamy government.

''We are waiting for the situation to develop. There is still a government in Karnataka,'' he said.

Nevertheless, the party had begun assessing the pros and cons of choosing from various options -- forming a government with JD(S) or going for elections -- that might crop up, he said.

Congress leaders in Karnataka were not keen on joining a government that had only 20 months of tenure left, he said.

The Centre would come into the picture once the Governor had given his report in the event of no political combination being in a position to form a government. After BJP's withdrawal of support, the Governor might ask Mr Kumaraswamy to take a floor test and subsequently explore the possibility of installing an alternative government by first inviting the single largest party (BJP) and later, if necessary, the third major party (Congress), Mr Chavan said in reply to reporters' queries on the possible developments.

The general feeling among the leaders was that the party should be cautious while exercising its option as it had to deal with two political parties which were "power hawks." A majority of the leaders were not in favour of extending support to the JD (S) and giving a further lease of life to the Kumaraswamy government.

However, a final stand of the party would be taken only after Mr Chavan's visit to Bangalore tomorrow. He would interact with the party leaders and MLAs to assess the mood of those at the ground level.

"It is too early to work out any strategy as the BJP is yet to meet Karnataka Governor and withdraw support," AICC General Secretary Veerappa Moily told mediapersons a few hours after the BJP Parliamentary Board decided to witdhraw support to the 20-month-old H D Kumaraswamy government in the state reducing it to a minority.

Mr Moily, a former chief mInister of Karnataka, said the Congress would not react to the developments in the state till the support was "officially withdrawn." Talking to mediapersons at the AICC headquarters here, he said the BJP should know it was not that easy to get roots in South India, especially in Karnataka.

Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi described the scenario in Karnataka as ''unfortunate," and said the voters felt betrayed by ''corruption-ridden bad governance'' of the JD (S) and BJP coalition.

''As far as the Congress is concerned, it is prepared to face every eventuality and the party would take appropriate decision as the events unfold,'' Dr Singhvi said.

The JD (S) has mere 48 MLAs in a House of 224 members and after withdrawal of support by the BJP, which is the largest single group, the party would obviously have to depend on the Congress which had 60 odd members in the Assembly.

UNI

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