JSW row: Cong in fire-fighting mode to end rift

JSW row: Cong in fire-fighting mode to end rift

With the sale of land to JSW company in Ballari district becoming a political hot potato in the state, the Congress high command has gone into fire-fighting mode to end the squabble among coalition partners.

Close on the heels of former prime minister H D Deve Gowda complaining to Congress president Rahul Gandhi against party leaders for criticising the JD(S)-Congress Cabinet decision, general secretary incharge of party affairs in Karnataka K C Venugopal is working to end the row by meeting his party leaders.

Former chief minister Siddaramaiah, who met the party’s top leaders in the national capital early this week including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Venugopal and senior leader A K Antony,
had defended the Cabinet
decision.

Explaining the reason for giving land to the steel company, he said that since the Cabinet decided to form a committee, the row will end soon. Irrigation Minister D K Shivakumar, who was here to meet party leaders, also defended the decision, saying there was no controversy in it.

However, senior Congress leader H K Patil, who was the first person to oppose the Cabinet decision, is learnt to have stuck to his stand, saying there was an urgent need to scrap the Cabinet decision.

Patil, who met senior leaders including Antony and Venugopal on the row, is learnt to have cautioned that unless the Congress took a tough stand against the Cabinet decision, the party may have to face public ire in the coming days.  

The party leaders suggested the state leaders not to give any public statement on the issue, sources said. The top leaders suggested the state leaders to wait till the Cabinet sub-committee gives its report. 

The Cabinet had recently decided to convert the lease of 3,667 acres to JSW Steel at Ballari into sale, in accordance with the initial agreement.

The issue became a row after Patil wrote a letter to the chief minister,  claiming that JSW owed Rs 2,000 crore, including interest, to Mysore Minerals Limited and this was ignored, while making the leased land freehold in favour of the lessee.

Deve Gowda had earlier asked Rahul as to how the Congress leaders could oppose the Cabinet decision publicly, since party leader K J George is the Industries minister and the Industries department piloted the proposal.

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