Siddaramaiah’s show of might leaves Congress in a fix

Siddaramaiah’s show of might leaves Congress in a fix

At least a dozen Congress legislators rushed to meet him at the SDM Yoga and Nature Cure Hospital.

In what was seen as former chief minister Siddaramaiah’s show of strength, at least a dozen Congress legislators rushed to meet him Wednesday at the SDM Yoga and Nature Cure Hospital, where is he rejuvenating himself.

This came on a day when Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara and Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar chided Siddaramaiah, without naming him, over his remarks that the Congress-JD(S) coalition may not last the full five-year term.

Municipalities Minister Ramesh Jarakiholi, Health and Family Welfare Minister Shivanand Patil, Basavakalyan legislator B Narayanarao, Raichur MP B V Nayak among others met Siddaramaiah and held closed-door discussions.

Siddaramaiah, who chairs the Coalition Coordination and Monitoring Committee, is scheduled to return to Bengaluru on Thursday night. But the manner in which legislators rushed to meet him on Wednesday - some of them flew to the Mangaluru International Airport in a special flight from Bengaluru - raised eyebrows.

“Please don’t mix politics with this. Siddaramaiah is our leader and we’ve come to enquire about his health. There’s nothing special about this visit,” Jarakiholi told reporters.

Narayana Rao, however, was frank when asked about whether Siddaramaiah felt sidelined in the coalition set-up. “Can anybody in the state survive by sidelining him? Will this government survive if he is sidelined? It was under his leadership that this coalition was stitched together.”

Siddaramaiah has been holding meetings with his close aides ever since he lodged himself for treatment at Ujire. His back-to-back video footages aired on news channels, in which he is heard expressing disapproval to Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s plan to table a full-fledged budget and also questioning the longevity of the coalition, has ruffled feathers. This has forced an embarrassed Congress to clamp down on leaders speaking out of turn, especially Siddaramaiah.

“The party will not digest comments by anyone that causes damage,” Shivakumar told reporters. “Individual opinions don’t matter. Everything is okay with the coalition. The party has collectively taken a decision. We have given in writing that we will support this government unconditionally.”

Siddaramaiah’s actions ever since Congress faced defeat in the recent Assembly polls have perplexed the party. At the height of dissidence and threat of rebellion by leaders who were denied Cabinet berths, Siddaramaiah stowed himself away in Badami. 

Siddaramaiah could be making premeditated moves to show that he was still relevant, according to some. “He was chief minister for five years. Naturally, he wants to continue to have a say in the coalition government,” a Congress leader said.