Karnataka Braces Up For Political Turmoil As Internal Dissent In Congress Threatens The Stability Of Coalition Government

by Swarajya Staff - Dec 31, 2018 10:00 AM +05:30 IST
Karnataka Braces Up For Political Turmoil As Internal Dissent In Congress Threatens The Stability Of  Coalition GovernmentKarnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara. (Arijit Sen/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Last week's cabinet rejig undertaken by the Karnataka Chief Minister H.D Kumaraswamy, to fill up the vacant ministerial slots, has a triggered a potential political tumult in the state and is threatening the stability of the Congress- JD(S) coalition government.

During the course of the week, political circles in Karnataka were agog with speculation that senior Congress leader from Belgaum district Ramesh Jarkiholi, who was ousted from the H D Kumaraswamy led Congress-JD(S) cabinet, ostensibly on the grounds of “poor performance”, is likely to resign as member of the Karnataka assembly and emerge as the focal point of a large-scale rebellion. Congress troubleshooters were still optimistic of persuading him to stay in the party fold. However efforts made by Congress troubleshooters  to trace the whereabouts of Ramesh Jarkiholi went in vain. In the clearest sign that rapprochement efforts have failed, Congress leaders acknowledged that Ramesh Jarkiholi, after he was dropped from the cabinet, had remained untraceable and incommunicado.

Efforts of AICC General Secretary, Karnataka in-charge, K.C. Venugopal and Ramesh's' brother Satish Jarkiholi, who was inducted into the cabinet replacing his brother, were also unsuccessful. The party leaders were hoping to make contact with him during the wedding of the rebel MLA's close relative at Raichur on Saturday, but Ramesh did not attend the function.

Congress sources now believe that BJP, after its initial reluctance, Is toying with the idea of toppling the state government. Senior BJP leader Yeddyurappa is currently in New Delhi and met the BJP national president, Amit Shah, on Sunday night(Dec 30). Congress leaders believe that Yeddyurappa is in New Delhi to get consent of the central leadership to step up the efforts to dislodge the coalition government .

In yet another worrying sign for the Congress, a meeting convened by the newly elected Lok Sabha member of Ballari, V S Ugrappa, drew a blank as party MLAs from the district, Anand Singh, Nagendra, Bheema Naik and Kampli Ganesh, did not turn up. Ugrappa made frenetic efforts to reach out to them but could not trace them. This has led to speculations in the political circles that the Congress legislators from this district are planning to switch allegiance to BJP. Anand Singh, a mining baron from Bellary, was earlier with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and later defected to Congress just before the assembly elections.Singh had given several anxious moments to the Congress troubleshooters in run-up to the formation of the government even giving tantalising that he had already decided to rejoin BJP.  However close associates of B. Nagendra and Anand Singh continue to maintain that they have no plan to defect and that they are out of town to celebrate the New Year.

Claiming that attempts are under way to wean away Congress legislators by way of money, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Sunday alleged that the BJP was trying to destabilise the coalition government. “BJP is indulging in horse trading by offering ₹25 crore to ₹30 crore to each legislator. If they are not corrupt, where are they getting such a huge amount from? As the Opposition party, what has it done so far except trying to bring down the government,” he tweeted.

Adding to the internal dissension with the Congress, the relationship between the coalition partners has also soured in recent times. Senior Cabinet minister H.D. Revanna, who hit out at the Congress for taking away the home department from Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, suggested that it displayed the anti-Dalit mindset of the Congress party. Revanna also said on Friday(Dec 28) saying his brother and Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy will "tolerate things as long as he can". Chief Minister Kumaraswamy himself left to Singapore without signing the list of chairpersons of boards and corporations .

Congress leaders also are apprehensive that few Lingayat MLAs might switch to the BJP.

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