Congress on edge after twin jolts

Siddaramaiah

The state Congress leadership made efforts to reach out to disgruntled, fence-sitting legislators on Tuesday even as the threat of more resignations looms over the H D Kumaraswamy-led coalition. 

That some MLAs, including B Nagendra and Mahesh Kumathalli, have gone incommunicado has kept the party’s troubleshooters on the edge. For instance, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah himself has not been able to get on the phone Anand Singh and Ramesh Jarkiholi, who resigned Monday. 

Another disgruntled legislator B C Patil, a ministerial aspirant, did not rule out resignation. “I was humiliated by the party. I can’t say anything now. Only time will tell,” he told reporters.   

Tuesday was the “inauspicious” day of amavasya that saw no MLA resigning, marking a sudden lull. 

On Tuesday, Kagwad MLA Shrimant Patil was asked to appear before Siddaramaiah for talks. Siddaramaiah has already held talks with Bheema Naik, Pratapgouda Patil, Amaregouda Bayyapur and Basanagouda Daddal. 

JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda has been keeping tabs on the regional party MLAs, whom the BJP is said to be eyeing. 

While the BJP has maintained that it had nothing to do with the resignations, the saffron party appears to be playing a long-drawn game.

The BJP is banking on the resignation of another six to eight MLAs over a period of time, until a point is reached when it can project the Congress-JD(S) coalition as unstable and that there was no confidence in the government. Then, it is said, Governor Vajubhai R Vala could ask Kumaraswamy to prove his majority on the floor of the House. The BJP is wary that ‘en masse’ resignation of MLAs would make it obvious that they had been poached. 

In all this, the Congress is wearing confidence on its face. For instance, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Dinesh Gundu Rao has gone overseas with his family, indicating that the “threat” was manageable. The BJP will need another 13 MLAs to resign to be able to form government. 

“It’s not that we don’t know the games being played and the chess pawns being moved,” Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar told reporters. Shivakumar even said there was no need for AICC general secretary in charge of Karnataka K C Venugopal to come. “There’s no need to panic.”

By Tuesday evening, Kumaraswamy who is currently in the US, had spoken to Shivakumar over phone half a dozen times to discuss political developments.

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