Bengaluru: JD(S) patriarch HD Deve Gowda on Friday delivered a jolt to the already tense ruling alliance in Karnataka by saying he had doubts about the coalition government’s survival, and he expected midterm assembly elections to take place. “I don’t know how long this government will survive. It depends on what decision the Congress takes,” he told reporters after performing yoga at his residence. On the possibility of midterm polls, he said: “Certainly, there should be no doubt.”But an hour after the comments, which intensified speculation about an imminent split between the JD(S) and Congress, Gowda reversed his position, saying the coalition government headed by his son, HD Kumaraswamy, was doing fine. He insisted he was not talking about fresh assembly polls, but about elections to rural local bodies. “Why would I be unhappy when everything is going well and thing are settling down? The Congress is satisfied; Kumaraswamy is satisfied,” the former prime minister said before attending a party programme in Bengaluru. “You (media) have misread my statement. I was talking about the zilla, taluk and gram panchayat elections, which are due this year.” By the time Gowda issued a clarification, his earlier reported comments had already created a stir, especially because some Congress leaders, including former chief minister Siddaramaiah, are said to have urged their party high command to end the partnership. State BJP leaders, including BS Yeddyurappa, seized on the comments to target the alliance. “If you are not able to run the government, resign and go home. We will run it,” Yeddyurappa said. But he added the BJP was not in favour of midterm polls as they would burden the exchequer. While interacting with reporters at his residence earlier in the day, Gowda reiterated that despite his reservations, the Congress forcefully forged an alliance with the JD(S) and made Kumaraswamy the chief minister. “I don’t know whether the Congress high command took this decision in consultation with state leaders. Maybe because the high command was strong then; it has become a bit weak after the Lok Sabha elections,” he said. He claimed the Congress was responsible for his switch from Hassan Lok Sabha constituency, a family stronghold, to Tumakuru, where he finally lost. “We had not asked for any of the seats that Congress had won, including Tumakuru. But to retain Mysuru, they offered us Tumakuru,” Gowda said. Siddaramaiah dismissed the claim. “It’s true we offered him Tumakuru as we wanted to retain Mysuru, but we didn’t force him to contest from Tumakuru,” he said. Siddaramaiah added the coalition government was stable and would remain so, rejecting reports that the Congress high command was considering a proposal to pull out. Kumaraswamy also said the government would complete its full term. “I don’t know in what context he (Gowda) commented on midterm polls. It’s his personal comment,” Kumaraswamy told reporters in Yadgir district, where he started his village stay programme on Friday.
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