The unrest in the Karnataka Congress over Cabinet formation reached the doorstep of Rahul Gandhi on Saturday, with senior leader M B Patil, the party’s face of the Lingayat movement for separate religion status, meeting the Congress president. Rahul is learnt to have assured him that the party would protect his interests but the crisis is far from over.
Patil is heading 15-20 prominent Congress MLAs who are disgruntled over not being given ministerial berths in the H D Kumaraswamy government. The Congress had dropped several members of the Siddaramaiah ministry, including Patil, KPCC working president Dinesh Gundu Rao, Ramalinga Reddy, R Roshan Baig, H K Patil, Tanvir Sait, Shamanur Sivashankarappa and AICC secretary Satish Jarkhiholi.
Rahul also had separate meetings with Rao and Krishna Byre Gowda, who has made it to the ministry Sources said Jarkiholi has even threatened to resign as AICC secretary. Patil and Jarkiholi are among the cash-rich MLAs of the Congress who helped the party in difficult times and are feeling aggrieved at being left out.
Sources said Patil first met veteran Ahmed Patel, who took him to meet Rahul. Sources said Rahul did not give any specific assurance to Patil but told him that their interests would be protected AICC general secretary K C Venugopal was not part of the discussions. Apprehending trouble, the Congress has kept six Cabinet berths vacant but with some 15-20 MLAs upset, it is a tightrope walk for the party to adjust all of them. The party high command also has the option of appointing a new PCC president as part of the balancing act.
On a day Patil was in Delhi, the outfit Jagathika Lingayat Mahasabha issued advertisements in newspapers stating that the Congress had gained 11 seats in the Lingayat belt of north Karnataka. It said 37 per cent of the Lingayat candidates put up by party had won, the highest for any caste, community or religion group After the meeting, Patil said he would go back to Bengaluru and talk to the MLAs who are unhappy with the Cabinet formation and the next course of action would be decided jointly. “I shared my views with Rahul Gandhi and explained the state’s situation,” he said. “I have not demanded anything. I am not alone, many friends are with me. I will share with them what happened at the meeting and then decide the plan of action.”