Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy Monday ruled out any threat to his eight-month-old government, dismissing speculations that disgruntled Congress MLAs could pose trouble in the coming budget session of the assembly by staying away from it. The chief minister said he was in regular touch with the Congress MLAs.The JDS-Congress ministry would not only survive before but also post the Lok Sabha elections and complete its full five-year term, he told reporters here. His remarks come amid reports that disgruntled Congress lawmakers on the BJP’s radar for poaching as part of its bid to topple the ruling coalition might keep away from the session beginning February 6.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah accused BJP of offering Rs 50 crore to his party MLAs and asserted that the saffron party was living under the illusion of coming to power. None of the Congress MLAs would fall for it even if offered Rs 100 crore, he told media in Koppal.
Kumaraswamy, in reply to a query, said he had no problem and was relaxed. “Some sections of media are projecting instability, saying disgruntled legislators will not attend the session… They (Cong MLAs) are in regular touch with me. I don’t know whether they are in touch with the Congress. I spoke to them today also. They will come to the session… no problem,” he said.
The JDS leader also said that he would do “whatever needs to be done” to ensure that the government completed its full term. “Let there be deadlines or allurements (to poach MLAs from the ruling coalition). I know how to remove the fuse,” he said, as he sought to puncture the claims of BJP that his government might not survive even to present the state budget.
He also claimed that there were “many people” within the BJP itself to “safeguard” him in the event of any threat to his government. Kumaraswamy’s worries have been mounting with the shadow boxing within the Congress raising questions about his leadership and BJP ratcheting up pressure with its alleged toppling bid that had recently triggered a political turmoil.
He had recently threatened to quit if the Congress leaders continued to take potshots at him. Asked about the “unhappy coalition marriage”, Kumaraswamy Monday said the Congress MLAs were happy with him. “… all the Congress MLAs are most happy with me… the way I am keeping them.. unrealistic news is being spread (about instability).
“The government will survive before and after the Lok Sabha polls. My government is stable.It will complete the remaining four years,” he said dismissing the persistent talk casting doubts about its longevity. Noting that any coalition would be beset with problems, he said, “how to control all these…. I have to work it out.”
He also said there was no problem in “managing” senior Congress leader and his predecessor Siddaramaiah, whose supporters are giving constant pinpricks.
Kumaraswamy said Siddaramaiah has himself made it clear that the chief minister’s post was not vacant. “Anybody can become chief minister… whoever has the numbers. why should I get disturbed?” he said, adding that Siddaramaiah’s followers were only talking about the future after the completion of the present term of his government.
The Congress-JDS squabbles had taken a turn for the worse Monday last when Kumaraswamy, in an emotional outburst, had said he was even ready to step down from chief ministership. This was after some hardcore MLA supporters of Siddaramaiah had said they still considered the Congress leader as the chief minister.
In a tough message to the Congress, Kumaraswamy had asked it to rein in its MLAs, with the senior coalition partner going into a damage control mode to mollify the agitated JDS leader. On the thorny issue of seat sharing with the Congress for Lok Sabha polls, Kumaraswamy said the party president (his father and JDS chief H D Deve Gowda) would “take care of it.”
To a question, he also ruled out imposition of liquor ban in the state, pointing out constraints the state faces in mobilising resources. However, though he emphathised with the women who have been pleading for prohibition.
He cited the cases of Gujarat where he claimed liquor was available freely despite prohibition and Bihar where the ban was in place and emphasised that the problem needs to be looked at in depth. Hundreds of women had walked over 400 kms to reach the Karnataka capital Wednesday last demanding a blanket ban on the sale and consumption of liquor in the state.