Friday, Jul 04, 2003
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By Our Staff Correspondent
At a crowded press conference, the leaders of both factions, including, the former Prime Minister and JD(S) President, H.D. Deve Gowda, the JD(U) State unit President, N. Thippanna, his JD(S) counterpart, Siddaramaiah, the senior leaders, P.G.R. Sindhia, C.M. Ibrahim, H.T. Krishnappa, Yekanthaiah, D. Manjunath, Bharathi Urs, Sripathi Rao, Srikantamurthy, and Sri Ganesh declared that it had been decided to merge both groups unconditionally.
The leaders said that though both groups had been merged informally, a formal announcement would be made after July 29, as "Shoonyamasa'' was inauspicious for the announcement. However, the leaders said that till then, they would tour the State and prevail upon friends and sympathisers of the party, who had distanced themselves for "various'' reasons and were with other political parties, including the Congress and the BJP, to return to their fold.
Mr. Deve Gowda clarified that at Wednesday's meeting, the State executive and the legislature party decided to sever relations with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance at the Centre. Both the JD(S) and the JD(U) had agreed to share organisational responsibility, he said.
He said there were no discussions on the symbol, name, and other issues, as these would have created confusion and controversy.
Mr. Gowda said that he was not confident of defeating the NDA alliance at the Centre. However, he was sure that the Congress Government in the State could be removed.
Describing the decision to merge the JD(S) and the JD(U) as historic, Mr. Gowda said that it was a step in memory of the former Chief Minister, late J.H. Patel, who wanted to merger the parties.
`A timely decision'
He noted that the merger was timely, as both the BJP and the Congress were preparing for Assembly and Lok Sabha elections by conducting "Chintan Bhaitak'' and a chief ministers' meet, respectively. Both parties had created an impression among the public that elections to the Lok Sabha would be held before it was due.
Mr. Gowda said that the Janata Parivar had a historical background, and it was diplomacy that ironed out the differences among leaders for the "welfare'' of the people.
To clear the suspicion among the public regarding the unity of the JD groups, the party would intensify its issue-based struggle against "bad governance" by both the NDA and Congress governments.
Mr. Thippanna said that time and again the JD(U) had clarified that the merger was necessary to defeat the Congress. However, the statements by leaders of the party were taken lightly by those of the All-India Progressive Janata Dal (AIPJD), who tried to cause confusion among workers. It was in view of this that the decision to merge the JD(S) and the JD(U) was taken, he added.
He clarified that the JD(U) leaders had not indulged in any bargaining, and till the announcement of the merger, they would tour the State to invite their erstwhile colleagues into the party fold.
Mr. Sindhia acknowledged the sentiments expressed by Mr. Gowda, and said the latter was the undisputed leader, and other leaders would strengthen the unified "Dal'' under the leadership of Mr. Gowda and Mr. Siddaramaiah. He thanked Mr. Siddaramiah for his "sacrifice'' in declaring that the future chief minister would be selected by the legislature party (which got a majority in the Assembly).
He said that the people were disappointed by the governance of the Congress in the State, and the BJP-led NDA at the Centre, and those who left the party "succumbing'' to pressure from Mr. Krishna were now repenting, and were eager to join the Dal. He, however, said that the people would have not excused them if they had not united.
He declared that the Dal would provide an alternative to the BJP and the Congress. Though he had caused an embarrassing situation for Mr. Gowda earlier by defeating him in the Kanakapura Assembly election, Mr. Gowda was gracious enough to appoint him as Home Minister in his Cabinet.
Mr. Siddaramaiah welcomed the merger, and said the people had rejected the Janata Parivar in the previous election as it was not united.
He regretted that S.R. Bommai, who was given the responsibility of uniting the JD groups, became instrumental in creating one more party.
Without mentioning names, he said a few leaders were conspiring against the merger plan so that the Congress would return to power in the State.
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