Sonia said ‘no’ to Karnataka government formation bid

May 26th, 2008 - 11:25 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) The Congress party has taken a conscious decision not to attempt to form a government in Karnataka, where the Bharatiya Janata Pary (BJP) has emerged as the largest party but three short of a majority, as party president Sonia Gandhi declined to give the go-ahead. “Had the Congress president given us the green signal, we would have got our chief minister sworn in before Wednesday. We could easily have paraded 114 MLAs before the governor,” said a senior Congress leader, who was involved in the Karnataka elections.

Although the BJP emerged as the single largest party, winning 110 of the 224 seats in the Karnataka elections, the party is still three short of majority to form the government. The Congress won 80, while the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), the former ruling ally of the BJP, bagged 28. The independents and others have six seats.

The Congress leader claimed the JD-S was willing to forge a post-poll alliance with the Congress to form a non-BJP government in the state, which would give the alliance 108 seats. Four independents who won, have been Congress rebels. “We could manage two more easily,” he said.

“However, Gandhi was of the view that it would be immoral and the party should not indulge in such attempts. She said it would damage the party in other states also,” the leader said on condition of anonymity.

“To top it, there are more than three party leaders who are ready to be sworn in as chief minister,” he quipped.

The Congress, whose electoral debacle in Karnataka follows defeats in Gujarat, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, is trying to fix the reasons.

“I admit that there have been reverses. We are in the process of fix it. We will have an internal review,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said.

Tewari said the Congress “fought the election as a cohesive and collective entity. All our leaders have put their best foot forward. In democracy, we win at times, we lose other times. We have to take it in our stride.”

However, in private, party leaders admitted that the Congress has to “do introspection” and the leadership has to review its strategies.

“The leadership has to ensure that the state units are functioning with discipline and are election oriented,” said a party leader, who worked in Karnataka.

He admitted that there were flaws in the candidate selection. “Of the total 11 women candidates we fielded, none could win. Of the 16 Muslim party candidates, seven won and one of the two Christian candidates was also elected.”

The party lost its traditional support base among the Scheduled Castes. In the 36 reserved constituencies, the Congress won only 10, while the BJP managed 22.

“We have to find out what happened in those constituencies. We will study the results carefully,” said Prithviraj Chavan, the party general secretary who was in charge of Karnataka elections.

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