Vishwanath said that CM Siddaramaiah did not consult with him, although he was a senior leader of the party with a strong base in Mysuru.

Karnataka Congress faces another defection Veteran leader H Vishwanath may quit the partyScreenshot/YouTube
news Politics Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - 14:35

Despite its strong showing in the Nanjangud and Gundlupet bye-polls, all is not well for the Congress in Karnataka. Just months after veteran leader SM Krishna ditched the Congress for the BJP, and V Srinivas Prasad too defected to the lotus, another veteran leader, H Vishwanath, is reportedly considering resigning from the Congress - although his future plans are unclear.

According to reports, Vishwanath, Kuruba leader, is holding meetings with supporters and prominent members of his community before he finalises his decision. A member of the Congress for 40 years, Vishwanath is unhappy with the way he is being treated by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

Like in SM Krishna’s case, Vishwanath’s grouse, too, is that he feels sidelined by the party leadership. But while Krishna was unhappy with the leadership in Delhi, particularly Rahul Gandhi, Vishwanath is angry with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

Vishwanath has alleged that despite being a veteran leader of the party with a strong base in Mysuru, he is rarely consulted by the Chief Minister. He also told reporters that although the CM has made it a point to visit leaders like HC Mahadevappa and Ambareesh during periods of illness, he has received no such courtesy from Siddaramaiah.

“Although I was unwell and hospitalised in Coimbatore for many months, he did not even call to enquire about my health,” Vishwanath is quoted as saying.

Relations between Vishwanath and Siddaramaiah have been tense ever since Vishwanath wrote a scathing letter to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, accusing the CM of ignoring veteran leaders and functioning in an autocratic manner. The CM had reportedly kept Vishwanath out of campaigning during the bye-polls, and instructed that his photographs not be carried in campaign posters and flex boards.

However, it is unclear of what Vishwanath’s future plans will be if he quits the Congress. Some reports claim that Vishwanath has met with senior JD(S) leaders, and the party has given the green signal for his induction.

The Times of India quoted an unnamed JD(S) leader as saying that the party is inducting Vishwanath to regain the strength it lost in Mysuru and Chamarajnagar when Siddaramaiah defected to the Congress in 2006. “They have promised to field him in the Assembly polls… Vishwanath may be fielded from Hunsur Assembly segment," the leader reportedly said.

However, according to the Deccan Chronicle, Vishwanath denied that he was joining the JD(S), but admitted to having a discussion with state BJP President BS Yeddyurappa regarding the possibility of joining the BJP.

While Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has not commented on the possible defection, he did dismiss all speculation on the possibility of early polls in the state. Hitting out at Yeddyurappa for suggesting that the Assembly elections would be advanced, Siddaramaiah asked if Yeddyurappa had become the Election Commissioner to announce the date of the elections. 

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