The president of the Karnataka unit of the JD(S) Tuesday submitted his resignation to party president H D Deve Gowda, citing the party’s loss in the Lok Sabha elections and a general lack of coordination in the JD(S)-Congress alliance in the state.
Among other points in his letter, A H Vishwanath, an MLA from Hunsur in Mysore and a Congress leader till 2017, has cited the dominance of his bete noire and Congress leader Siddaramaiah as a reason for his resignation.
“The government has not been able to perform to the expectations of the people except for a couple of areas. I have to say that I am disappointed as the state party president. Kumaraswamy has run the government to the best of his capabilities despite his allies causing problems,’’ the JD(S) leader stated.
“I was not included in the coalition coordination committee. My views and that of Dinesh Gundu Rao (state Congress chief) were not heard in the coordination committee. Siddaramaiah dominated the committee and made it his puppet,’’ the JD(S) leader has stated.
He also blamed the Congress and its leaders for the loss suffered by former PM H D Deve Gowda and chief minister H D Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil Kumaraswamy in the Lok Sabha elections. The JD(S) contested seven of 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka and managed to register a win in only one seat like its ally Congress.
Vishwanath also alleged that Congress leaders in Mandya joined hands to defeat Nikhil Kumaraswamy and laid a trap for Gowda’s defeat in Tumkur. “Your loss in Tumkur has hurt me and the whole party. The Congress compelled you to contest from Tumkur by not conceding the Mysore seat despite our requests. They conspired to cause your defeat,” Vishwanath said.
Due to health reasons, the Hunsur MLA was neither part of the Lok Sabha poll campaign and nor had been considered for a Cabinet post last year. He was reportedly among the JD(S) MLAs to have been approached by the BJP last year to topple the coalition government. Vishwanath had, however, denied the reports.
Veteran leaders in the Congress-JD(S) alliance seem to be trying to dent Siddaramaiah’s influence over the coalition government. The veterans’ assertion also shows that the Congress-JD(S) ship has sprung leaks which may become difficult to contain. After showing initial haste in bringing down the alliance, the Opposition BJP in Karnataka is now waiting to see if the coalition will collapse under the weight of its own contradictions.
Vishwanath left the Congress after joining it in 1978 to be part of the JD(S), citing differences with then CM Siddaramaiah – his rival from the OBC Kuruba community and the Mysore region. His position in the JD(S) has been largely ceremonial with party decisions and plans being the exclusive domain of Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy.
Vishwanath has been engaged in a war of words with his arch rival Siddaramaiah since the Lok Sabha poll loss in Karnataka. Last week, he accused Siddaramaiah’s supporters of violating “coalition dharma” by openly wishing for the Congress leader to be Chief Minister again. Siddaramaiah accused Vishwanath of the same for questioning his contributions to the state as chief minister.
Vishwanath, who praised Narendra Modi when he took oath as Prime Minister, has denied that his resignation as party chief is linked to a possible alignment with the BJP. He has, however, stated that he would be interested in becoming a minister again if given the chance.
The JD(S) state president is not the only veteran to express anguish over the alliance at a time the coalition is planning a Cabinet expansion to stall a rebellion in its ranks which could otherwise lead to the BJP staking a claim to form government.
Congress veteran Ramalinga Reddy had also said that the Congress uses senior leaders to fight elections but discards them when it comes to government posts.
“Senior Congress leaders need to protect the principles of the party. At the same time they must guard against seniors leaving the party. At this rate it would be difficult for seniors to remain in the party,” Reddy, a former minister who was denied a cabinet berth, said in a series of tweets.
Senior Congress leaders like Roshan Baig and H K Patil, who are aspiring to be ministers, have also spoken out against the party’s policies in the aftermath of the Lok Sabha polls.