The grim reality of poor performance in the Lok Sabha elections has hit the Congress and JD(S) hard in Karnataka, and has also raised questions of accountability of those in-charge. JD(S) State President Adagooru H Vishwanath resigned from his post on Tuesday, accepting moral responsibility for the party’s failure. However, Vishwanath placed the blame for the coalition’s failure squarely on former Chief Minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah’s shoulder.
And while Vishwanath was addressing the media at noon on Tuesday, another significant development in the state’s political scenario occurred parallelly. Former Karnataka Home Minister and a staunch Congress loyalist, Ramalinga Reddy openly accused the Congress leaders in-charge of the party and the coalition of greed. In a Facebook post, Ramalinga Reddy blamed state leaders of rendering veteran leaders powerless within the party. And he indirectly targeted Siddaramaiah and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President Dinesh Gundu Rao.
“The inability to think about long-term repercussions, not taking into account the opinions of party veterans, and the placement of ineligible leaders as ministers and their inability to connect with the people are the main reasons why we lost the Lok Sabha elections in the state,” Ramalinga Reddy said. He also blamed the party leadership of allocating monumental responsibilities to newcomers, “with no knowledge about party affairs”, which he claims led to the party’s downfall. Reddy raised concerns about the inability of the leaders of the coordination committee (referring to Siddaramaiah) to quell the infighting and bring the leaders up to task.
“Certain Congress leaders and party workers have no connect with each other. By neglecting the seniors and party workers, the cadre were not motivated to help win the elections and they have voiced their opinions with the veterans. If the party needs to buck up, ignoring seniors is not the way to go about it,” Ramalinga Reddy added.
With this comment, Siddaramaiah is facing a full-blown revolt from veterans. Last week, veteran Congress veterans Kagodu Thimmappa, Motamma, Shamanur Shivashankarappa and SR Patil also accused Siddaramaiah, KC Venugopal, and Dinesh Gundu Rao for the party’s multiple failures.
“Kagodu Thimmappa and Shamanur Shivashankarappa were against forging a coalition since the very beginning. They have been loyal to the party for decades and their opinions were not considered while forming the alliance. They blamed Siddaramaiah for the rebellion in the party cadre,” a Congress leader says.
And with both AH Vishwanath and Ramalinga Reddy joining the bandwagon of leaders hassled with Siddaramaiah’s iron hold on party affairs, sources say that the High Command may be motivated to clip Siddaramaiah’s wings within the party.
An unrivalled leader in the Congress, Siddaramaiah is also the most important and powerful one the Karnataka Congress has. Although the Congress leaders cannot remove Siddaramaiah from being in-charge of the party’s affairs in the state, sources say that the veterans are demanding that his responsibilities be reduced.
Insiders in the grand old party are now pushing for uprooting Siddaramaiah from his post as the chief of the coalition’s co-ordination committee. Complaints about Siddaramaiah using the committee as his toy have been rolling in from both the Congress and JD(S) leaders.
“They want Mallikarjun Kharge to replace Siddaramaiah as the co-ordination committee chief. If Kharge is the head, then the veterans will have a voice in the party. Siddaramaiah’s cronies will have to check their behavior and there may actually be a chance for the coalition to survive,” a senior Congress leader says. This could also backfire, the leader says, as there is a high possibility of Siddaramaiah orchestrating the break-up of the coalition in such a scenario.
“He will ensure that at least 40 out of the 78 MLAs withdraw their support from the coalition. Right now, he wants to be the leader of the opposition and break away from the JD(S). Besides, AH Vishwamath may join the BJP and so will JD(S) leaders GT Devegowda, Narayana Gowda, HK Kumaraswamy and others. The BJP has not approached them but they will go and ask BJP for an offer soon,” the Congress leader claimed.