The discontent within the state Congress following the ministry reshuffle, prompted the party leadership on Monday to issue a stern warning that indiscipline and anti-party activities will not be tolerated.
The open warning came from Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Dinesh Gundu Rao even as senior leaders including Ramalinga Reddy and Ramesh Jarkiholi, who were most vocal in expressing their unhappiness during the past two days, switched to silent mode.
“If anybody in the future does anything against the interest of the party, then we will take it very seriously. Nobody is above the party,” Rao said.
To send a message that it meant business, the KPCC expelled nine district and taluk panchayat-level leaders for anti-party activities during Assembly, Council and local body elections. The decision was taken based on the recommendations of the party’s disciplinary committee.
Rao said some seniors had been left out because of “permutations and combinations” but overall it had been a good exercise and justice had been rendered to North Karnataka. Seven of the eight Congress legislators inducted into the Cabinet last week are from North Karnataka.
Ramesh Jarkiholi, who had indicated that he will resign as a legislator after being axed from the Cabinet, seems to be getting isolated and losing support. “Give me four days’ time. I will inform the people of the state about my decision. I have many things to discuss with you (media)”, Jarkiholi said.
A purported conversation involving Ramesh Jarkiholi was aired by local TV channels on Sunday where he could be heard speaking about his plans to quit as a Congress MLA had fuelled speculation about him defecting to the BJP.
In contrast to Jarkiholi, supporters continued to rally behind Reddy, a seven-term MLA. They staged a protest expressing displeasure about their leader not being considered during the Cabinet expansion. Earlier, at a meeting, a few office bearers of the Jayanagar and BTM Layout block Congress even offered to tender their resignations.
Reddy is the legislator of BTM Layout, while his daughter Sowmya Reddy represents Jayanagar constituency in the Assembly.
The BJP, for its part, continued to fish in troubled waters. There was speculation in political circles that the BJP was trying to convince Ramalinga Reddy to join the saffron fold along with his daughter. It is said that BJP offered Reddy to contest from Bengaluru South Lok Sabha seat. Bengaluru South constituency is considered a safe seat for the BJP and was represented by former Union minister the late Ananth Kumar six times. Sowmya can recontest the BTM Layout seat on a BJP ticket.
Allocation of portfolios to the newly inducted ministers was delayed by another day with All India Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary in charge of Karnataka K C Venugopal postponing his visit to Bengaluru to Tuesday.
Venugopal was to hold a meeting on Monday evening to decide on portfolio allocation. Meanwhile, lobbying for plum portfolios like Energy, Home, Water Resources and Urban Development continued in the Congress camp.