A day after it suffered defeat in the Karnataka elections, the knives were out in the Congress. Sources in the Congress said outgoing Chief Minister Siddaramaiah broke down at a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party, which significantly concluded without electing a new CLP leader. Sources said some of the MLAs, without taking the name of Siddaramaiah, blamed leaders for the defeat of the Congress. Outgoing Assembly Speaker Krishnappa Koliwad, on the other hand, hit out at Siddaramaiah holding him directly responsible for the defeat. Koliwad lost from Ranibennur to R Shankar of the Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party.
Talking to The Indian Express over phone, Koliwad said, “Siddaramaiah is the only man responsible for the defeat of the Congress. His rude behaviour, attitude… he ignored the senior leaders of the Congress, he gave tickets to whomsoever he wanted… All these are responsible for the defeat of the Congress.”
He said he had brought this to the attention of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi earlier. “I had explained to the high command many times. Siddaramaiah is inevitable for the time being. He is essential for the party. But he is not a Congressman. His blood is not Congress at all. But the high command was also not in a position to take any drastic steps against him because of his position. The high command also had to hear him and act according to his desire. The situation was like that,” he said.
Siddaramaiah had joined the Congress in 2006 after he was sacked by the JD(S). “As long as he gets power, he is in the party. He did the same in the JD(S). He is not a man of any party,” Koliwad said. He said many “real Congress workers and leaders” were denied tickets and only Siddaramaiah’s followers were fielded, which was responsible for the party’s defeat.
Koliwad said Siddaramaiah wanted to give a ticket to Shankar from Ranibennur as he is from the Kuruba community. “He had contested against me last time. He wanted to give him the ticket. He was about to announce that. I spoke to Rahul Gandhi and got the ticket..but he did not come to campaign for me despite my repeated requests…because community people are many there. He advised all those people to work against me… He came to the neighbouring seat but did not come to my constituency,” he said.
At the CLP meeting, Siddaramaiah said he got the cooperation of everyone in the last five years, and recounted the work done by his government and the BJP’s attack against him. He broke down at one point, a senior leader said. “He was in tears,” the leader said.