Venugopal faces volley of plaints from Cong leaders

On Day Two of his visit to Bengaluru, All India Congress Committee General Secretary in-charge of Karnataka K C Venugopal had to face a barrage of complaints from state leaders on the lack of internal democracy in the party and the style of functioning of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

Venugopal and his team of four secretaries — Manickam Tagore, Madhu Yashki Goud, P C Vishnunadh and Sake Sailajanath — held one-to-one interactions with ministers, MPs, legislators and other functionaries through the day on Tuesday.

The leaders are said to have told Venugopal that the Congress can retain power in the 2018 Assembly elections only if the party is strengthened at the grass roots and prominence is given to party loyalists.

Former minister H Vishwanath launched a no-holds-barred attack on Siddaramaiah after meeting the AICC team. “The conduct of Siddaramaiah is not good. Many senior leaders are unhappy with his style of functioning. There is no coordination between the party and the government. Leaders are not allowed to express their views to the government.  If the situation continues, many leaders are bound to quit the party,” Vishwanath told reporters. He also submitted a three-page letter to Venugopal.

Vishwanath stated that he may be forced to quit the party because of the insults thrown at him by Siddaramaiah. Vishwanath is said to be instrumental in bringing Siddaramaiah into the party. He said that the thrill of being the “kingmaker” of making Siddaramaiah the chief minister is no longer there.

MLA Malikayya Guttedar said he had explained the internal problems in the party to Venugopal and his team. “Justice should be rendered to those who have been loyal to the party. If I do not get justice then I will have to speak to the people of my constituency and decide on my next course of action,” Guttedar said. Guttedar is unhappy because he has not been made a minister despite being a five-term MLA.

Former minister Sathish Jarkiholi urged Venugopal not to provide tickets to those who lobby. “Give tickets to those who are capable of winning elections and not to those who hang out in New Delhi for weeks lobbying. Besides, announce the list of party candidates six months ahead of polls,” suggested Jarkiholi stating that the tradition of issuing party tickets to candidates at the last minute should go.

A senior minister is said to have complained to Venugopal and his team against Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President G Parameshwara for not ushering in unity in the party. He is said to have stated that Energy Minister D K Shivakumar is not suitable for the post and sought that Parameshwara be replaced by senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge.
Public Works Minister H C Mahadevappa came out in support of Siddaramaiah. “He is a good leader and an able administrator. The party high command is in his favour,” Mahadevappa said. Venugopal, however, refused to answer queries from reporters on complaints against senior leaders.

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