Cong leaders question Siddaramaiah's ability to lead

Cong leaders question Siddaramaiah's ability to lead

Former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah. PTI Photo

 In fresh trouble for the Congress in Karnataka, some senior leaders have questioned former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's and state party chief Dinesh Gundu Rao's "unilateral" style of functioning. An unperturbed Rao on Friday said he will remain in the post till the party asks him to step down. "Some people politically are engaging in a false campaign, I don't pay heed to it. Until high command asks me to stay in the post I will remain. If high command asks me to go I will go," Rao told reporters here. "Just because someone asked I will not resign. No one has asked for it also. I will work in the party's interest." As the Congress sat down to finalise its list of candidates for the bypolls to 15 assembly segments in Karnataka, the party seemed to be a divided house with differences cropping up between some senior leaders at a meeting held on Thursday.

At the meeting of state Congress' election committee attended by AICC general secretary K C Venugopal, some senior leaders expressed their displeasure about state leadership's "unilateral style of functioning" and over accountability not being fixed for party's debacle in polls.

According to a top party functionary, Gundu Rao and Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah were in the line of fire at the meeting from B K Hariprasad and K H Muniyappa, who took exception at not being consulted during candidates' selection process, and being called after names were "mostly finalised."

Responding to a question about reports that a few Congress Rajya Sabha members from the state were writing to the high command on change in leadership, including CLP leader and PCC presidents, Rao said he was not aware of such things and termed it "speculative."

Under attack for not taking action against those within the party allegedly responsible for the defeat of Congress candidates in the Lok Sabha polls, Rao during the meeting is even said to have offered to resign.

Responding to it, Rao said "Some people have spoken about no action being taken. Without proof, we cannot take action, just because someone is saying. We have formed a fact-finding committee, it will submit a report on October 2, based on it we will take action after inquiry." Muniyappa had even accused Siddaramaiah of "sheltering" Congress leaders in Kolar, who worked against him in Lok Sabha polls resulting in his defeat, according to sources, which led to an argument between the two at the meeting.

After the Lok Sabha poll rout, Congress had dissolved the KPCC but did not remove its state president and working president. However, speculation has been rife in party circles that the KPCC president may also be changed.

Responding to the allegation that he followed Siddaramaiah's instructions, Rao said "I'm not in favour of anyone, neither Siddaramaiah nor G Parameshwara or D K Shivakumar. I work for Congress. At many instances, I have opposed Siddaramaiah on issues.

I have stood by the interest of the party... I'm not anyone's chela (disciple). As some people don't have anything against me, they brand me pro-Siddaramaiah," he added.

Supporting Hariprasad and Muniyappa, disqualified Congress MLA S T Somashekar on Friday hit out at Rao and questioned if he was PCC President or "chela" of Siddaramaiah.

"...he is not capable to work as KPCC President... Rao's only qualification is his father was Chief Minister," he said.