BENGALURU: Former prime minister H. D. Deve Gowda’ s Janata Dal (Secular) party is literally on the streets, as it had to vacate its head office in Bengaluru by December 31, in accordance with an order of the Supreme Court, which ruled that the property belonged to the Congress party.
To make matters worse, the Congress government in Karnataka did not allot land to the JD(S) to set up its new headquarters in the city. An upset and angry Gowda has vowed to function even from a makeshift “shed” in the city.
“We had submitted an application to the BDA (Bangalore Development Authority) four months back seeking allotment of land for our office in the city. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah too assured us land… But nothing has happened so far,” Gowda lamented.
On January 21, 2014, the Supreme Court directed the JD(S) to vacate its building and hand over the same to the Congress.
Though the JD(S) is expected to file a review petition in the Supreme Court, it is bound to vacate the property.
Located near Anand Rao Circle, the building was synonymous with the JD(S), which held numerous conventions, meetings and celebrations in the last 10 years.
According to the Congress, the land for the building (Congress Bhavan) was donated in 1949 to the Bangalore district unit of the party by veteran party leader A. Rangaswamy. The Congress party workers contributed money to construct the ‘ Congress Bhavan’ (granite structure). The sprawling building and its premises, which includes a garden, was in the possession of the national party till 1969.
In 1969, the Indian National Congress split into INC(J) headed by the former PM Indira Gandhi and INC(O) headed by S. Nijalingappa, the former CM of Karnataka. The INC(O) retained control over the building, as majority of the Congress leaders from Karnataka had identified themselves with Nijalingappa.
Subsequently, the INC(O) merged with various non-Congress parties under the umbrella organisation of the Janata Parivar.
The building remained in the possession of the Janata Party, which too split in 1977. The Janatal Dal retained the building and further to its split (in 1999) into Janata Dal (S) and the Janata Dal (United), former PM H. D. Deve Gowda, brought the building under the purview of his party.
However, by then, the Congress, which had lost its prime property, explored legal options to take back ‘ Congress Bhavan’ . The Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) approached a local city court in 1982 seeking to reclaim ownership of the building.
The court in 2005 delivered a verdict in favour of the KPCC. This prompted the JD(S) to approach the Karnataka High Court.
On October 12, 2013, the high court upheld the verdict of the lower court and directed the JD(S) to vacate the ‘Congress Bhavan’ within three months. The JD(S), however, then had challenged it in the Supreme Court.
“We submitted an application to the BDA (Bangalore Development Authority) four months ago seeking allotment of land. But nothing has happened so far,” the JD (S) said.