Friday, Jul 04, 2003
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By S. Rajendran
Sources in the Janata Dal groups from among those who are working for the consolidation of the Janata Parivar told The Hindu that the BJP member of the Rajya Sabha, M. Rajasekhara Murthy, who was Finance Minister in the Veerendra Patil Government, had reportedly confirmed that he would throw in his lot with the JD(S).
In all likelihood, Mr. Murthy will join the JD(S) at a rally to be held in Mysore, or at a function in Bangalore to mark the merger of the parties.
Another interesting development pertaining to the polarisation of political forces is the move to rope in the Union minister, V. Srinivas Prasad, who is also regarded as a political leader of standing from the Mysore region. Reports have it that Mr. Prasad has evinced interest in joining the JD(S), and is said to be holding discussions with Mr. Murthy. While Mr. Murthy is a prominent leader of the Veerashaiva community, Mr. Prasad is a Scheduled Caste leader, and both of them enjoy considerable clout in Mysore and adjoining districts.
Mr. Prasad, who contested the last Lok Sabha elections on the JD(U) ticket, later shifted allegiance to the Samata Party and was made a Union minister of State. Mr. Murthy, who has three years left of his term in the Rajya Sabha, was earlier a Congress leader. The former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, confirmed to The Hindu today that the entry of Mr. Murthy into the Janata Dal was imminent, and discussions with him on the matter had been completed.
The JD(S) would apparently like to woo the Lingayats with the support of Mr. Murthy, and simultaneously attempt to bring down Ramakrishna Hegde's popularity among the Lingayats in the North Karnataka districts. It is also believed that the entry of Mr. Murthy will have other repercussions, particularly that of the Lingayat legislators in the All-India Progressive Janata Dal preferring to go with him. Some Lingayat legislators have already started demanding a quick merger of the various groups of the Janata Parivar.
Mr. Deve Gowda, who commenced an intensive tour of all 27 districts on Sunday last, expressed confidence that the JD(S), with the support of P.G.R. Sindhia and Mr. Murthy would be able to cause an upset for the Congress and the BJP in the next elections. "Despite the several splits in the erstwhile Janata Dal, the rank and file of the party, particularly workers, have remained largely with the JD(S), and a section of them with the JD(U). With the merger today, the party now has a strong base at the grassroots,'' Mr. Gowda said.
Mr. Sindhia, who refused to shift his allegiance to the AIPJD along with the other JD(U) legislators, expressed confidence that his commitment to the merger of the Janata Parivar groups would pay dividends. He said: "We have to think of our political future and that of the party rather than aim at important positions in the Government even before the party is successful in the elections. I am committed to putting in my best to ensure that the party forges ahead in the elections.''
The formal merger of the JD(U) and the JD(S) is expected to be a grand affair. The function is likely to be held on the Bangalore Palace grounds on August 9.
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