Over 110 days since the volatile JDS-Congress combine formed the government in Karnataka, uncertainty continues to rock the boat. A day after former chief minister of Karnataka Siddaramaiah returned from his 12-day Europe trip, legislators including sitting minister Zameer Ahmed Khan met with the Congress veteran and reportedly complained about chief minister HD Kumaraswamy and several Congress leaders.
Sources told Republic TV that the malcontent Congress leaders have lamented that their interests are being compromised by CM HDK while JDS legislators, although fewer in numbers, get their work done easily. They also complained about senior Congress leaders in the government like deputy chief minister G Parameshwara and water resources minister DK Shivakumar have so far have been futile in taking up cudgels on their behalf and are siding with the chief minister.
Siddaramaiah, as per sources, has assured to take up the issue with central leaders of the Congress party while cautioning the dissidents to not indulge in mudslinging as it could negatively impact the crucial Lok Sabha elections in 2019. Many in Congress believe that cracks within the Karnataka government could wound the seat sharing plans between JDS and Congress on Karnataka for 2019 polls, effectively dividing vote base in favour of BJP. Karnataka has 28 Lok Sabha seats and in 2014, Congress managed to win 9 and the JDS won 2 seats.
In the meantime, Jarkiholi brothers, who have been in the eye of the storm of the horse-trading controversy, have been holding frantic consultations with their supporters. Last week, a spat between the Jarkiholi brothers and Belgaum MLA Laxmi Hebbalkar amplified and intensified into a massive ego tussle, also embroiling DK Shivakumar who is known to back Hebbalkar. The Jarkiholi brothers are reported to enjoy the support of at least 15 legislators and have a tight grip over the border district of Belagavi.
With an impedance to bring down the government in Karnataka, the bellicose leaders have given the Congress state leaders a deadline of September 30th to expand the cabinet and accommodate the rebels.
Sathish Jarkiholi, speaking to reporters in Belagavi on Sunday said, '"What can I do if the government falls tomorrow? I don't know. We must wait and watch what happens in the coming days. What can I do if it (government) falls tomorrow? We won't go to the BJP but I don't know about others." This non-committal comment has further fueled talks of a possible threat and defection.
On September 17, several leaders have met with Siddaramaiah and the Jarkiholi brothers too had sought an appointment to discuss their concerns with DK Shivakumar and others. the Congress high command has summoned senior Karnataka leaders Siddaramaiah, G Parameshwara, DK Shivakumar, KPCC president Dinesh Gundurao and working president Eashwar Khandre to Delhi to douse the fire in the state unit.
Meanwhile, many Congress legislators have leveled allegations against the BJP of attempting to poach them with promise of money and a ministerial berth, if they help topple the JDS-Congress govt and aide BJP in forming the next government, for the second time in Karnataka. Reports suggest that Congress and JDS MLAs like Nagendra, Anand Singh, Krishna Reddy, MTB Nagaraju, Shivaram Hebbar, Sudhakar Reddy, Narayan Rao, Bheema Naik, and Srimant Baba Saheb Patil have been approached by the saffron party's Karnataka unit.
While the BJP has debunked all reports of attempted horse-trading, party chief Amit Shah has allegedly told the Karnataka leaders to not be seen as bringing down the government but instead wait patiently for the coalition to collapse.