Notorious for its lack of unity, the Karnataka Congress appears to have added one more feather in its cap – mass-bunking when the party’s national vice president Rahul Gandhi comes to help them out, costing the party’s Bihar election campaign a precious two days.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah finds himself in a possible repeat of the circumstances that turned SM Krishna from Karnataka’s golden boy into the target of public anger. The state is facing one of the worst droughts it has seen in 40 years, a spate of farmer suicides has been reported from every district in the state, and the government is trying to placate protesters in three different parts of the state ensuring them that their drinking water supply will be taken care of.
At this juncture, Rahul Gandhi’s visit on October 9 and 10 was supposed to have worked as a display of strength and unity in the Karnataka unit of the Congress, but has instead, turned into a huge embarrassment for the party as several senior ministers were not to be seen during Gandhi’s visit to Haveri and Mandya districts, and a 6km padayatra in Ranebennur, Haveri district.
According to Kannada daily Vijaya Karnataka, the senior national leadership of the Congress has not taken too kindly the ‘mass-bunking’ during Rahul Gandhi’s visit. The party’s Karnataka in-charge Digvijaya Singh has been asked to issue notices to industries minister RV Deshpande, horticulture minister Shamanur Shivshankarappa, HC Mahadevappa, Satish Jarakiholi, MH Ambarish, Ramanath Rai, H Anjaneya, UT Khader, Parameshwar Naik, Abhaychandra Jain and others who were missing from either of the two programmes. Some ministers were present for the Mandya visit, but not for the Haveri one.
In a cabinet meeting last week, Siddaramaiah had clearly told cabinet ministers to be present. State party chief G Parameshwarahad written to all ministers and asked them to be present.
Kannada daily Kannada Prabha has reported that some of the ministers have tried to explain their absence by saying that they had been divided into three groups because Gandhi’s two-day visit would be held across three venues. This however, has been disregarded by the party because some of those present in Mandya were also present in Haveri.
Kannada Prabha reported that transport minister Ramalinga Reddy, revenue minister V Srinivas Prasad, textile minister Baburao Chinchansur, home minister KJ George, were among those absent during the Haveri programme.
Social Welfare minister H Anjaneya however, has furnished a reason for his inability to attend. He has reportedly written to the state leadership and conveyed that he could not make it as he was presiding over a programme in Chitradurga on October 10 in which Chief Justice of India HL Dattu had participated, both newspapers reported.