RaGa meets disgruntled K’taka Congress MLAs
The rebellion in Karnataka Congress over the allocation of Cabinet berths reached New Delhi with the disgruntled MLAs, led by MB Patil, expressing their resentment to party chief Rahul Gandhi. The meeting, however, remained inconclusive.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) working president Dinesh Gundu Rao and new Minister Krishna Byre Gowda too were present at the meeting.
“We are trying to resolve the differences. The process is on at the moment. No decision has been taken yet. The consultations are still going on with State leaders,” Gowda said. Supporters of prominent Congress leaders also protested outside the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee office in Bengaluru.
Chief Minister and JD(S) chief HD Kumaraswamy too is facing dissent from his Ministers seeking plum portfolios. The JD(S)-Congress Cabinet was expanded on June 6 with the induction of 25 new Ministers, after intense bargaining for Ministerial berths. The much-awaited exercise has caused heartburn among several lawmakers in the coalition while supporters of some of the Ministerial aspirants staged protests.
Reacting to the issue, Kumaraswamy said he has seen reports about such disgruntlement only in the media and no one has expressed their dissatisfaction with him personally. “Some people will have a wish to work in certain Departments, but in every Department there is opportunity to work efficiently. We have to work efficiently. Can everyone be given the portfolio they wish for?” the Chief Minister asked, adding, “is there a better Department than Higher Education and Minor Irrigation to work?”
He was referring to JD(S) leader GT Deve Gowda, who defeated Siddaramaiah in Mysuru and has been allotted Higher Education, and CS Puttaraju, who got Minor Irrigation in the portfolio allocation last night, being unhappy about their Ministries.
On reported comments by GT Deve Gowda about him being given Higher Education, when he just studied till eighth standard, the Chief Minister said, “What have I studied? I’m working as the Chief Minister.”
GT Devegowda and Puttaraju, (who vacated his Lok Sabha seat and won the Melukote assembly segment), were eyeing key portfolios, including Transport. DC Thammanna, a relative of JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda, has been allotted the Transport Department and has ever expressed discontent.
Besides Patil and Gundu Rao, the Congress has dropped several key members of the previous Siddaramaiah Ministry, including Ramalinga Reddy, R Roshan Baig, HK Patil, Tanvir Sait, Shamanur Sivashankarappaand, Satish Jarkhiholi, from the coalition Government leading to resentment.
After meeting with the Congress high command, Patil said the next plan of action will be decided after discussions with the 15-20 MLAs, who are unhappy with the Cabinet expansion. He, however, asserted that he has no plans to quit the Congress.
Patil, who campaigned for a minority status for the Lingayats, is a prominent State Congress leader. Under his leadership a section of dissatisfied legislators have held several meetings last week.
“I shared my views with Rahul Gandhi and explained the State’s situation. I have not demanded anything. I am not alone, many friends are together with me. I will share with them what happened in the meeting and then decide next plan of action.” Patil, a former Irrigation Minister and an MLA from Vijayapura district, said he has no plans to quit the party.
“The BJP has not approached me nor I have got in touch with the saffron party. My fight is within Congress,” he said. He also mentioned that he was not in the race for the KPCC President post and did not make that demand in the meeting.
Queering the pitch for the two partners, BJP strongman BS Yeddyurappa said many legislators of JD(S) and Congress are eager to join the BJP. Yeddyurappa’s comments assumes significance as dissident activities intensified in the Congress and JD(S) over not getting Ministerial berths.
The growing dissent is also threatening the fragile coalition in Karnataka which is formed to fight the BJP in 2019 elections. Kumaraswamy announced the portfolios for the 25 Ministers inducted into the Cabinet and he kept 12 key portfolios to the JD(S), including Finance, intelligence, energy and infrastructure development.
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