Cong rebels seen at Sumalatha's dinner meeting

Cong rebels seen at Sumalatha's dinner meeting

Sumalatha Ambareesh

In an embarrassment to the Congress, the party’s rebel leaders from Mandya reportedly held a dinner meeting with Sumalatha, who contested as an Independent candidate against Congress-JD(S) alliance candidate Nikhil Kumaraswamy in the recent Lok Sabha election from Mandya seat, in Bengaluru on Tuesday.

N Chaluvarayaswamy and P M Narendraswamy (both former ministers), former legislator H C Balakrishna, Ravi Ganiga and Malavalli Shivanna are among the prominent Congress rebels who were seen at the dinner hosted by Sumalatha at a star hotel. The meeting is seen as an indication that the rebel Congress leaders had worked in favour of Sumalatha in the bitterly fought election in Mandya.

A video clip of the meeting was aired by Kannada news channels on Wednesday. 

Interestingly, some of the leaders who attend the dinner meeting are close followers of co-ordination committee chairman Siddaramaiah. In fact, Chaluvarayaswamy and Balakrishna quit the JD(S) and joined the Congress in 2018 at the behest of Siddaramaiah.

These leaders had stiffly opposed the Congress’ decision to allow alliance partner JD(S) to field its candidate from Mandya. Besides, most of these rebel leaders have a running spat with JD(S) father-son duo H D Deve Gowda and Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy. Despite efforts by Congress to convince them to work for Nikhil in the elections, the rebel leaders had reportedly indirectly supported Sumalatha, wife of the late M H Ambareesh.

Speaking to reporters, Balakrishna tried to downplay the meeting saying it was a casual get-together. “Those who attended the meeting were dead horses. Why attach any importance to it,” he asked.

In another development, Higher Education Minister G T Devegowda admitted that a section of JD(S) workers in Mysuru had worked in favour of BJP candidate Pratap Simha. “Delay in ensuring understanding between Congress and JD(S) workers led to confusion in parts of Mysuru. The joint campaign started with only five days left for polling,” he stated.

State Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao said it is not proper on the part of a minister to make such statements.