Gowda sidesteps query on Third front

Bangalore: Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda today sidestepped a query on formation of a Third Front in the country, saying he was concentrating on strengthening his JDS in Karnataka.

"If regional parties become strong, they will have more say.I have decided to concentrate on strengthening JDS in the state. I am going to fully concentrate on this", Gowda told reporters here. His reaction came to a query whether he would play a lead role in formation of a third front in the wake of poll success achieved by Samajwadi Party, which was voted to power in Uttar Pradesh.

Gowda cited success of SP and also Trinamool Congress in West Bengal to drive home his argument that regional parties should be strengthened. He said he has already toured nine districts of Karnataka and would also visit the remaining 21 districts as part of the ongoing exercise to strengthen JDS to prepare it for assembly elections next year . JDS has currently 26 MLAs in the 224-member assembly. Gowda slammed the Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, which he dubbed as "anti-poor, anti-farmer". The hike in service tax and excise duty will burden the comman man, he said.

On the upcoming biennial election being held to four Rajya Sabha seats in Karnataka on March 30, Gowda said his party leaders would meet tomorrow to decide whether to field a candidate or extend support to any candidate. JDS with 26 MLAs does not have strength to win a seat as the winning candidate needs 46 first preference votes to coast to victory.