Don’t make Karnataka another Gujarat, Congress tells BJP

May 29th, 2008 - 6:49 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Bahujan Samaj Party

Bangalore, May 29 (IANS) The Congress said Thursday it would offer “constructive support” to the new Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Karnataka and would do nothing to destabilise it, but warned against any attempts to “communalise” the state or turn it into another Gujarat. “As a responsible opposition party, we will offer constructive support to the new government (that assumes office Friday) on development issues and work for the betterment of the state. We will not do anything to destabilise the new government on our own,” Congress legislative party (CLP) leader Mallikarjun Kharge told reporters here.

“If the government falls on its own due to contradictions within the BJP or loses the slender majority it has with the support of independents, we will not be responsible for such a predicament,” he added.

Kharge also warned the Bharatiya Janata Party against governing with any hidden agenda or attempting to turn Karnataka into a Hindutva laboratory to “communalise” the state, as the party was being accused of doing in Gujarat.

“Though we did not get the mandate to rule, we have a great responsibility towards the state and its people, as 80 of our candidates have been elected to serve the state and provide constructive support. We will not allow another Godhra or Gujarat genocide to happen in Karnataka,” Kharge said a day after he was formally elected the new CLP leader.

Admitting that denial of tickets to rebel candidates might have worked against the party in some constituencies, while it benefited in many other key segments, Kharge said the party would accept the people’s verdict gracefully and strive towards the development of the state and its people across the social strata.

“A few of our party rebels not only contested as independents, but also won to play a crucial role in the formation of the next government. Though selection of candidates was based on winnability and other key factors, the strategy did not work in some seats, while it did in many,” Kharge pointed out.

Of the six elected independents, four were Congress rebels who were denied tickets to contest on the party symbol. One was a BJP rebel and another a rebel of the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S).

With the BJP winning 110 seats and falling short of a majority in the 225-member legislative assembly by three seats, all the six independents have pledged their support to it for forming its first government in the state and south India.

Declining to go into reasons behind the Congress debacle in the poll, Kharge, who continues to the party’s state unit president, said due to some unforeseen factors, victory eluded party candidates in at least 30-40 seats, especially in the second and third phase of voting.

“Though we fielded candidates in all the 224 constituencies and won in 80, we stood second in as many as 116 of them, losing to rival candidates by narrow or small margins. Our vote base has remained intact at around 35 percent as in the 2004 election.

“Division of secular votes between us, JD-S and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) could have benefited other party candidates. Similarly, in majority of the SC and ST segments, including those constituted after the delimitation exercise, our candidates lost due to consolidation of upper caste votes in favour of opponents and marginalisation of other or secular votes,” Kharge lamented.

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