Bengaluru(PTI): JDS Supremo H D Deve Gowda on Tuesday said he could not tell which party was communal and which was not, as he did not sound very optimistic about the ongoing efforts to forge an anti-BJP front nationally, ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

The former PM sought to know if there was a single party in the country that has had no association with the BJP, either directly or indirectly.

"I can analyse in detail about this country's politics, what is the use? Show me one party which has not associated with the BJP, either directly or indirectly. Show me one party in the whole country, then I will answer," Gowda said in response to a question about Bihar CM Nitish Kumar trying to forge an anti BJP front at the national level.

Speaking to reporters here, he said, "Some Congress leaders may say -- but, had they not gone to Karunanidhi (of DMK), who supported BJP for six years, whether directly or indirectly.... that's why I don't want to discuss the political atmosphere prevailing in this country, there is no need, I have seen it as PM, CM, as MP...what happened in Maharashtra? I can quote several incidents."

Declining to comment on a query about leading or joining a front against BJP on the request of like minded parties, Gowda said, "who is communal, who is not communal, I don't know. First of all, the definition of communal and non communal -- it can be enlarged, then the scope is much..."

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had called a meeting of opposition parties in Patna on June 12. The event has now been postponed.

Amid reports in a section of media that JD(S) would enter into an alliance with the BJP to fight the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the party veteran said he and his party would not pay attention to such things.

"Regarding the Parliament election, there are a variety of things, we are not going to pay attention to it. Our party, our strength -- our karyakartas are our strength -- by unifying and encouraging them, we will have to work towards strengthening the regional party, save it and move ahead."

Pointing to the presence of strong regional parties in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, he said, "In that direction we will have to strive towards strengthening and nurturing the JD(S) by giving more strength to youth."

He also said that he had advised the constitution of a "high level" committee with representation from all communities for strengthening the party.

Asked if he would once again contest Lok Sabha polls, Gowda said, he is 91-year-old now and that question does not arise.

"How many candidates will be fielded for MP elections and from where, all those things will be decided later. The priority is to identify our strengths in zilla, taluk and corporation polls. After that we will look at Parliament polls, we will contest wherever we can based on our strength. We had a tie up with RSP and communist party, our leaders will decide in this regard," he added

Gowda said he has called a meeting of party leaders to discuss the party's performance in the recently held Assembly polls, organising, strengthening the party and restructuring of taluk and district units wherever necessary ahead of the upcoming zilla, taluk and corporation polls; and preparation for 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

"I don't want to speak about Congress or BJP or the promises they made and about their implementation. What is before us is the upcoming elections....we will not sit quietly, I'm 91 and I'm also ready to work with you. I call on all party leaders, especially youths, to work towards building the party and prepare for the polls," he said.

JD(S) has to start preparing for the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) polls, and the party has to identify candidates in the places where we were not fielding, he said, "I'm ready to travel wherever the party asks me to go for organizing and building the party , there is no question of me sitting idle."

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New Delhi/Srinagar, Jul 13: The Centre has significantly strengthened the authority of the lieutenant governor in Jammu and Kashmir, empowering him to make decisions on crucial matters such as police and all-India services officers and granting sanctions for prosecution in various cases.

The opposition slammed the Union government's move and termed it a step towards "disempowering" the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Official sources, however, said the notification does not in any sense alter the balance of powers as enshrined in the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.

The Union home ministry gave more powers to the lieutenant governor on Friday by amending the transaction rules framed under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019. This Act, passed alongside the abrogation of Article 370, bifurcated the erstwhile state into two Union territories -- Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

The sources said that with the amendments to the transaction rules, the powers of the legislative assembly and the functions of the lieutenant governor have been clearly defined and delineated in the Act, and the same has been reflected in the transaction of business rules.

The Union home ministry notification, through which the amendment to the transaction rules of the Act were brought, has been issued to provide better clarity on the processes to enable the smooth administration of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

It is a simple amendment to the transaction rules which were issued to avoid any ambiguity, the sources added.

In the past, proposals concerning police, public order, all-India services and the Anti-Corruption Bureau required approval from the finance department of Jammu and Kashmir before reaching the lieutenant governor.

Under the revised rules, such proposals must now be presented directly to the lieutenant governor through the chief secretary of the Union territory.

The lieutenant governor's authority extends further to the appointment of the advocate general and other law officers. These appointments, previously decided upon by the government, will now require the lieutenant governor's approval.

The Centre's decision has met with criticism from some political parties in Jammu and Kashmir who view it as an attempt to undermine the power of an elected government.

The Supreme Court has directed the restoration of statehood in Jammu and Kashmir "at the earliest" and the holding of elections to the assembly by September 30, 2024.

On Saturday, various political parties expressed their disapproval of the Centre's move to grant additional powers to the lieutenant governor in matters concerning police and all-India service officers.

The National Conference (NC) and the People's Democratic Party (PDP) labelled the decision as a step towards "disempowering" the people of Jammu and Kashmir, while the Congress condemned the move as a "murder of democracy".

The Apni Party called for a unified protest against the decision.

Following the Centre's move, decisions regarding prosecution sanctions and filing appeals will also come under the lieutenant governor's purview. Additionally, matters related to prisons, the directorate of prosecution and the forensic science laboratory will be handled directly by the lieutenant governor.

"No proposal which requires previous concurrence of the Finance Department with regard to 'Police', 'Public Order', 'All India Service' and 'Anti Corruption Bureau' to exercise the discretion of the Lieutenant Governor under the Act shall be concurred or rejected unless it has been placed before the lieutenant governor through the chief secretary," the Union home ministry notification stated.

The lieutenant governor's role in bureaucratic matters has also been amplified. Proposals for postings and transfers of administrative secretaries, along with those concerning IAS and IPS officers, will be routed through his office.

Reacting to this order, NC vice-president Omar Abdullah raised concerns about the implications of having a "powerless and rubber stamp" chief minister, who would need the lieutenant governor's approval even for minor appointments.

Despite acknowledging the timing of the decision in relation to the upcoming elections, Abdullah emphasised the importance of a clear commitment towards restoring full statehood of Jammu and Kashmir.

"This is why a firm commitment to laying out the timeline for restoration of full and undiluted statehood for Jammu and Kashmir is a prerequisite for these polls. The people of Jammu and Kashmir deserve better than a powerless and rubber stamp CM who will have to beg the L-G to get his/her peon appointed," he said.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said the increased powers given to the Jammu and Kashmir lieutenant governor suggested a dim outlook for the restoration of a full-fledged statehood in the near future.

In a post on 'X', he said, "The only meaning that can be drawn from this notification is that full-fledged statehood for Jammu and Kashmir does not seem likely in the immediate future."

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti's daughter and media adviser Iltija Mufti highlighted the perceived agenda behind the decision, suggesting that it was aimed at limiting the powers of any future elected government in the region.

"The order seeks to disempower the powers of the next Jammu and Kashmir state government only because the BJP doesn't want to cede control or lose its iron grip over Kashmiris. Statehood is out of the question. An elected government in Jammu and Kashmir will be reduced to a municipality," she said.

Jammu and Kashmir Congress president Vikar Rasool Wani echoed the sentiment of democracy being under threat, describing the move as a "murder of democracy" that would hinder the path to true statehood restoration.

Apni Party chief Altaf Bukhari called for unity among political parties in opposing the Centre's decision, warning against the creation of a "powerless assembly" that would diminish the effectiveness of elected representatives in serving the region's interests.

"We appeal to all parties to shun political differences and come together on this issue. If we cannot stand united today, then we will never be. We should ensure that the statehood that we get is not hollow and has all the powers to serve people. We have to be united to serve the interests of the people," Bukhari added.

The sources said the Act was passed by Parliament in August 2019 and the same was upheld by the Supreme Court.

As per section 32 of the Act, the legislative assembly may make laws concerning any of the matters enumerated in the State List except "Police" and "Public Order" or the Concurrent List in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India, they said.

As per section 53 of the Act, the lieutenant governor shall exercise his functions in his discretion in a matter which falls outside the purview of powers conferred on legislative assembly, related to all-India services and the Anti-Corruption Bureau and any other matter which he is required by or under any law to act in its discretion.

Senior CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami said the amendments constitute "another brazen assault on the remaining nominal rights", virtually "downsizing" a historic state to the status of a bigger municipality. He said it is high time for all political parties to unitedly oppose the "autocratic order" and demand its revocation.