Even as the crisis managers of the JD(S) and the Congress are making desperate last-ditch efforts to save the coalition government in Karnataka from what looks like an imminent collapse, the sudden nature of political development in the state has left even seasoned political observers stunned.
A total of 13 legislators from both the parties resigned on Saturday(Jul 6) – 10 of the Congress and three, the JD(S).
While the exit of disgruntled Congress leader Ramesh Jarkiholi and few legislators close to him from the party was viewed as a foregone conclusion, five legislators regarded as close associates of former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, joining the rebel ranks has convinced a section of Congress leaders that Siddaramaiah himself would engineered the latest round of crisis.
Many in Congress party believe that that latest spree of resignations is just a gimmick enacted by Siddaramiah faction to blackmail the Congress top leadership and secure cabinet berth for his key lieutenants Byrathi Basavaraj , S.T Somashekhar and Muniratna.
Basavaraj, Somasekhar and Muniratna are party legislators from assembly segments in Bengaluru city. Three of them are widely considered to be the ‘money managers’ of the former Congress Chief Minister.
Earlier last year, Siddaramaiah was in the eye of a storm for receiving a Mercedes Benz SUV, estimated to be worth Rs 1.8 crore, as a ‘gift’ from Byrathi Suresh, the brother of Basavaraj. The Byrathi brothers, who have amassed huge fortunes in real estate business, are close associates of Siddaramaiah. Incidentally, the Byrathi brothers also belong to the Kuruba community.
On the other hand, leaders belonging to the Siddharamiah faction claims that the rebellion of Bengaluru MLAs was due to government's refusal to consult them during the ongoing ward delimitation exercise of the BBMP. The proposed delimitation prepared by the government it is said is electorally detrimental to these MLAs as many wards in their constituencies were they wield considerable clout are proposed to be merged with other segments. They also point out that powerful seven-time MLA from the city Ramalinga Reddy (he did not get a berth in the coalition cabinet) too quit.
Siddaramaiah has been sulking ever since the new coalition government came in to power and he has found himself to be completely marginalized. He has blamed Congress’s alliance with JD-S for the party’s disastrous performance in the recently held Lok Sabha election.
Speculations are rife in the state political circles that Congress top leadership, in an attempt to diffuse the crisis, is considering the option of handing over the leadership of the party in Karnataka to veteran leader Mallikarjun Kharge.
The state political is buzz with with the talk that party high command has already conveyed to the rebel MLAs that former leader of Congress parliamentary party in Lok Sabha, who belongs to the Dalit community, will be elevated as the chief minister and this proposal as the support of JD-S patriarch Deve Gowda.
A section of local media also reported that JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda spoke to Sonia Gandhi over the phone on Saturday evening and accused Siddaramaiah of hatching a plot to topple the government led by his son Chief Mininiser H.D Kumarawamy.
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