Sharpening his attack on the Congress, former Karnataka Chief Minister and JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy dropped a political bombshell on Wednesday. In a statement released, Kumaraswamy said the Congress leaders opposed making senior leader Mallikharjuna Kharge as the Chief Minister when talks of an alliance was on between the JD(S) and Congress after the 2018 Assembly elections.
'When there was a hung Assembly, former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, in the presence of senior national and State leaders, suggested to make Kharge the CM. It was Congress leaders who prevented Kharge from becoming the CM. The JD(S) though was not keen, the Congress party high command and the State leaders kowtowed requesting to me take the CM's post. After this, you started driving from the backseat and dictating terms and exerting pressure. Where was your morality then?(sic)â€™ read the statement.
The JD(S) leader, further accused the Congress leaders of the state of using only social media to attack, cowering to come forward and indulge in a face-off with him. â€˜Unable to question me directly, the so called bigwigs of the party have taken shelter behind the Congress' official twitter handle @INCKarnataka.â€™
The war of words began in the backdrop of Congressâ€™ 'Save Democracy campaign', a campaign against the BJP for allegedly trying to grab power in Rajasthan. While the Congress leaders in Karnataka had accused the BJP of horse-trading of legislators in the Rajasthan context to which Kumaraswamy hit out saying that the Congress had invented the game and the BJP was just taking it forward. The Congress hit back, questioning why he found the party palatable when he wanted to come to power in Karnataka.
Meanwhile these outbursts are being seen as an attempt to stay politically relevant but most essentially, safeguard the Vokkaliga vote base in southern Karnataka. After DK Shivakumar has been made the Karnataka Congress president, there is a sense of insecurity in the JD(S) first family that their influence over the second largest caste vote bank might be threatened and with that the familyâ€™s and the partyâ€™s future imperiled, sources claimed. Vokkaligas form the second dominant caste base, after Lingayats, in Karnataka.
Congress party sources tell TNM that their leaders have been instructed to not react to this provocation by their former ally. Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, in particular, has even instructed his social media team to not tweet any reaction in this regard. Responding to this instigation, sources say the Congress believes, will only give political mileage to JD(S) which has seen its influence dwindling.
In 2018, after the Assembly polls resulted in a hung assembly, the Congress and JD(S) formed an alliance in Karnataka, with HD Kumaraswamy as the Chief Minister and G Parameshwara from Congress as the Deputy Chief Minister.