Speculation on Ramesh Jarkiholi's quitting as Cong MLA

Congress MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi.

A day after he was axed from the Cabinet owing to “poor performance”, rumours were rife that Ramesh Jarkiholi might resign as member of the Karnataka Assembly.

On Sunday, television channels aired an audio clip of a purported conversation between Ramesh and his supporter — yet again triggering speculations about the Gokak MLA’s defection to the BJP.

In the audio, one person is heard asking the other if he would step down as a legislator. “Yes, it is confirmed. I will resign in a week. But I will not reveal the numbers,” says the second person in response.

Ramesh, who had sequestered himself all of Saturday, while his brother Satish was sworn into the H D Kumaraswamy Cabinet along with seven other MLAs, was briefly seen in public on Sunday.

After a game of badminton, he was seen snapping at reporters who asked him about the latest development. “It all happened because of the media,” Ramesh charged, before he was driven away in his car.

Ramesh’s sacking has created quite a flutter, especially in the BJP camp, which has been trying to lure the MLA for the last few months. BJP president B S Yeddyurappa went as far as to say that the Congress will be forced to face the consequences of its decision to drop Ramesh.

The party seems unfazed. Though it has warned dissidents against indulging in anti-party activities, sources said the party will not make any efforts to retain Ramesh if he tried jumping ship to the BJP.

Sources said coalition partners don’t perceive any immediate threat to government as BJP lacks the required numbers to topple the government.

Reddy blames state leaders

The Congress continues to face the wrath of disgruntled MLAs, who were aspiring for Cabinet berths. Former minister and BTM Layout MLA Ramalinga Reddy, blamed two senior party leaders for blocking his entry into the Cabinet.

“You should ask Siddaramaiah, Dinesh Gundu Rao, Parameshwara and K C Venugopal as to why I was not considered for ministership. They are the ones who made these decisions and influenced the high command. Though I didn’t lobby for the berth, I thought I will be considered based on my seniority. But it is said that MLAs including Roshan Baig, H K Patil and I have been given enough opportunities, and that newcomers should be considered. If that is the yardstick, why are leaders like R V Deshpande, Parameshwara, D K Shivakumar and K J George, who have been ministers more than three to four times, continuing as ministers? This is nothing but discrimination. It hurts to be sidelined in this manner. It is evident that two leaders who have nursed a grudge against me sabotaged my chances,” said Reddy, while speaking to the media.

Rubbishing rumours that the BJP was in touch with him, Reddy said he would not quit the Congress.

His supporters, however, have decided to mount pressure on the Congress high command. Through a Twitter handle ‘BTM Congress’ followed by Reddy’s daughter Sowmya Reddy and Karnataka Congress, his supporters have appealed to Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to reconsider their decision.

“The undisputed leader who upheld the spirit of congress for the past 40 long years as a minister and an MLA, known as the people’s leader. It’s time to pay back for his tireless services Sri @RahulGandhi ji, @KPCCPresident,” reads the tweet.

Now, the portfolios

Having fulfilled the task of Cabinet expansion, the Congress is now posed with the task of distributing portfolios.

With eight new ministers inducted into the Cabinet, the party will have to allocate those many portfolios, which might be a challenging task. The newly inducted ministers have demanded important portfolios, including Deputy CM, Home, Water Resources, RDPR and Urban Development. However, these portfolios are held by heavyweights like D K Shivakumar and G Parameshwara. AICC general secretary and Karnataka in-charge K C Venugopal, who will be in Bengaluru on Monday, may take stock of the matter.

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