Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy threatened to resign on Monday, after a Congress MLA — in the first direct attack by the coalition partner — criticised his governance. Seeking to control the damage, the Congress ordered its state unit to issue a showcause notice to the MLA. Congress general secretary K C Venugopal, who is in charge of party affairs in the state, said the party high command has “full faith” in Kumaraswamy and the state government.
On Sunday, Congress MLA S T Somashekhar, a loyalist of former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, said: “The coalition government has completed eight months but has not released funds for the development of Bangalore. As Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah’s contribution to Bangalore was huge’’. He said he wished Siddaramaiah was the Chief Minister again.
Somashekhar, who was recently appointed chairman of the Bangalore Development Authority, was speaking at an event organised by the Kuruba community.
Reacting to his remarks, Kumaraswamy said on Monday: “It will be a problem for the Congress, not for me. I will quit. The Congress leaders have to watch out for these issues. I am not concerned since it is a Congress issue. When their leaders cross the lines, the Congress leadership must control them.’’
The Congress was quick to react. “Instructed Karnataka PCC to send a showcause notice to Somashekhar MLA seeking clarification on his controversial remarks. If the explanation is not satisfactory, party will take strong disciplinary action. @INCIndia will not tolerate any such indiscipline statements and actions,” tweeted Venugopal.
“The Congress high command has full faith in Karnataka Govt and Chief Minister. The Government is moving ahead with popular and welfare measures reflecting the ambitions of the people in Karnataka,” he tweeted.
Siddaramaiah did not react to Kumaraswamy’s remarks. At the event on Sunday, he said he had always conducted himself with “self respect’’ in politics.
While Congress and JD(S) leaders have jousted in private ever since the two parties joined hands to form the government in Karnataka last year, they refrained from making direct attacks, in keeping with their “coalition dharma’’.
In July, Kumaraswamy told a JD(S) rally that he had consumed a chalice of poison by becoming the Chief Minister of the coalition government.
The attack on Kumaraswamy on Sunday comes days before he is set to present the state budget. There are concerns among Siddaramaiah’s supporters that funding for some of his pet projects may be cut in the new budget.
The Siddaramaiah group is also concerned that it may lose control over South Karnataka during the Lok Sabha polls, when a seat-sharing agreement is finalised. The OBC Kuruba community of Siddaramaiah and the dominant Vokkaliga community which supports the JD(S) are bitter rivals at the grassroot level in most of the constituencies in South Karnataka. After its performance in the assembly polls last year, the JD(S) is eyeing many of the Lok Sabha seats in this region, including Siddaramaiah’s home district of Mysore.
The Lok Sabha seat-sharing talks between the Congress and JD(S) are expected to be held this week, after the JD(S) holds a meeting of its national executive in Bengaluru on Tuesday and Wednesday.