Siddaramaiah holds talks with Ramesh Jarkiholi

Siddaramaiah holds talks with Ramesh Jarkiholi

Media persons waiting outside the former chief minister Siddaramaiah’s residence Caveri, where he meets with Jarkiholi brothers, in Bengaluru on Monday. DH Photo/ B H Shivakumar

The threat of rebellion within the Congress loomed as the powerful Jarkiholi brothers remained firm on having their demands fulfilled, even as Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah tried to defuse the political crisis on Monday.

The Belagavi brothers’ feud with Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar and MLA Laxmi Hebbalkar has kept the party on tenterhooks. Their demands include Cabinet berths and board/corporation appointments to their loyalists, the exit of Shivakumar from Belagavi affairs and transfers of officials in the district.

Siddaramaiah, who has been tasked with resolving the impasse, held talks with Municipalities Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi. However, Ramesh and his MLA brother Satish appear to be adamant. This is seen as a move only to mount pressure on the party. Sources close to Siddaramaiah said there was no immediate threat to the survival of the Congress-JD(S) coalition.  

Ramesh held a meeting with his MLA friends for three hours where he apparently reiterated his willingness to quit the party if their demands were not met. He is said to have urged his group to stay firm. 

Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi arrives to attend a meeting called by
former chief minister Siddaramaiah in Bengaluru on Monday. DH Photo/ B H Shivakumar

During his meeting with Siddaramaiah, it is learnt that Ramesh conveyed the decision he and his MLA friends had taken, pressing for fulfilment of his demands. Apparently, Ramesh asked to be made the deputy chief minister, for which Siddaramaiah said he would get back to him after discussions with the high command. Ramesh also claimed to have had the support of over a dozen legislators, sources said. Siddaramaiah is likely to head to Delhi in a day or two.

Meanwhile, Ramesh’s brother Satish told reporters in Belagavi that he had been summoned by the party high command in Delhi on Tuesday. KPCC chief Dinesh Gundu Rao will accompany him.

In all this, the BJP kept its fingers crossed hoping that the Jarkiholi camp would destabilise the Congress-JD(S) coalition. Sources in the BJP said the party was ready with a plan to stake a claim to form the government if it came to that. 

Siddaramaiah met disgruntled legislators, who are ministerial aspirants. He asked them not to show their disgruntlement in public to avoid embarrassing the coalition.

Chikkaballapur MLA K Sudhakar, Hoskote MLA M T B Nagaraju, Hagaribommanahalli MLA Bhima Nayak among others met Siddaramaiah. Both Sudhakar and Nagaraju expressed concern over the Congress legislators getting “shortchanged” by the JD(S). “In my district, there are some problems, politically,” Sudhakar told reporters.

Nagaraju was more forthcoming when he said he was unhappy with the development plank. “Also, I’m a three-time MLA and I have seniority. I should have become a minister by now,” he said.

Party legislators, it is learnt, have aired their grouse against Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara and Shivakumar for their “indifference” in the way the coalition functioned. Sources said Siddaramaiah conveyed the legislators’ concerns to AICC general secretary in charge of Karnataka K C Venugopal.

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