Watch row: Cong high command not happy with CM's explanation

Watch row: Cong high command not happy with CM's explanation

Although Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah gave his version of the row over the “gift” of a luxury watch sported by him, the Congress high command is not fully satisfied that he will be able to weather the political storm generated by the episode.

With new angles being added to the row by the Opposition leaders, the high command was mulling ways to contain the damage to the Congress’ prospects in the remaining two years of its rule in the State.

Party sources said the high command was not happy over such rows coming to light when Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhhi had himself led a strong campaign against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “suit-boot” government. It was pointed out to the chief minister that if the controversy was not contained immediately, it could tell upon

Congress’ campaign against the BJP in several states and at the Centre, on corruption.
The Congress high command is also unhappy that the State government’s popularity was not showing an upward trend as reflected in the Zilla and Taluk panchayats polls.

Though the chief minister, during his meeting with party president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday, defended the watch issue saying it was gifted by his friend, it was learnt that the high command wanted him to act further to prevent recurrence of such controversies.

Karnataka Congress president G Parameshwara, who had met Rahul Gandhi a couple of days before the chief minister’s Delhi visit, is understood to have conveyed that the watch controversy was one of the main reasons for the party’s average performance in the recently held elections.

Despite the chief minister claiming that he had delivered a good administration in the past three years, many state leaders had told the high command that the latest controversy had only sullied the State government’s image.

A section of party leaders who are upset with the chief minister, are of the view that, as part of damage-controlling measures, “urgent corrective steps” are reuqired to be taken. But the party high command is not clear as yet as to what steps should be taken, sources said.

‘Not Cong culture’

Senior party leader B K Hari Prasad on Friday also criticised the chief minister over the watch row and said wearing luxury watches is not  Congress culture.  Attacking Chief Minister Siddaramaiah for poor performance in the recently held Assembly by-poll and zilla and taluk panchayats polls, the party national general secretary also said it was a strategic blunder committed by the chief minister.

Criticising the chief minister’s style of functioning, Hari Prasad said, “The chief minister has not adapted to Congress culture. He should not ignore old Congress leaders.”

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