Just over a month since the collapse of the JDS-Congress government in Karnataka and display of unity has come crashing down. JDS and Congress leaders had buried their hatchet, in a last-ditch effort to save their sinking government and their confidence of continued amiability could not last even for a month.
The first salvo came from the former prime minister and JDS supremo HD Devegowda who blamed his former protege Siddaramaiah for the downfall of the previous government, a statement he repeated thrice over the last few days. Devegowda also blamed the Congress high command for not taking Siddaramaiah’s consent before making HDK as the chief minister for a full term of five years.
Reacting to the provocation finally, Siddaramaiah held a press conference on Friday to refute charges made against him by his former party president. ‘It is true that I told the high command that we should have a friendly fight in the Lok Sabha polls and not together. But the allegations made by Devegowda are not true. I wanted to be quiet, but the allegations are serious and people might take it the wrong way if I don't respond.
He said the Coalition collapse was because of Siddaramaiah, that I was not happy with Kumarswamy as CM. These are false.” The acrimony between the two leaders, Siddaramaiah and Devegowda, over the last 15 years is well documented and to save the coalition the duo even campaigned together. But the allegations made by Gowda are dire and the response by Siddaramiah, caustic. Speaking to media, Siddaramaiah alluded to Gowda’s past and said, ‘Deve Gowda doesn't tolerate anybody growing in his party and even within the Vokkaliga caste.
He only cares for his family. What happened to all the senior leaders in his party? I politically oppose JD(S) but he paints it as opposition to a caste’. The state unit of the Congress party came out in support of the former chief minister right after his stinging press conference.
The KPCC president Dinesh Gundurao held a media briefing and said, ‘There was no need for Devegowda or any other leader from JDS to speak against Siddaramaiah. Because he was provoked, he has spoken out today. There was no situation where we did not cooperate with former CM HD Kumaraswamy, there was no need for him to cry publicly so many times. There were issues from both sides but we were trying to resolve them amicably’.
Choosing to not further the increasing antagonism, HD Kumaraswamy refrained from commenting to the media on the statements of both his father and Siddaramaiah. He then took to social media and said, ‘It is not time to answer the allegations leveled by former chief minister Shri Siddaramaiah. The political atmosphere of the country is unidirectional. The contradiction is not healthy when secular forces have to unite. I will definitely answer everything when the time is right’.
With the developments of the last two days, the possibility of JDS and Congress coming together once again as partners for the by-polls to the 17 constituencies seem bleak. When asked about the same, Siddaramaiah chose to maintain silence and said that the high command will take the final call.
Scrutinizing the timing of Devegowda’s outbursts, many analysts suspect that the embroilment of HDK in high-profile cases like the IMA ponzi scam and the more recent allegations of phone tapping by his government and the transfer of both these cases to the CBI could be a major catalyst. Gowda sr repeatedly absolved PM Modi and HM Shah of having no role in the transfer of the cases, something many sees as an attempt to cozy up to the BJP, once again.