Amid former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah sending mixed signals with his "Chief Minister again" comment, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and the newly-elected JD(S) president H Vishwanath have demanded better representation for their party in the JD(S)-Congress coordination committee. The Committee was constituted to ensure the smooth functioning of the coalition government which is led by the JD(S) despite the Congress being the larger partner. Currently, there are only two members from the JD(S) as compared to three from the Congress in the panel.
In accordance with this demand, the JD(S) leaders have also raised the point that the committee is headed by former CM Siddaramaiah which purportedly gives an additional upper hand to the Congress. This comes even as there is talk of inducting Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) chief Dinesh Gundu Rao in the panel.
The JD(S) is seeking its new party president and others leaders to be inducted in the panel as well. As per sources, HD Deve Gowda will also raise the matter with senior Congress leaders in Delhi.
Addressing the media, the former Prime Minister said,"We haven't taken a call yet. There are five members in the panel now, three from their party and two from ours. Our question is if they are inducting their party president into the committee they must also induct our party chief as well. We've not discussed the matter yet"
Adding to Deve Gowda's statement, H Vishwanath said, "They should induct me and Dinesh Gundu Rao into the coordination committee, only then the committee becomes complete. Presidents of both the parties must be in the panel".
Earlier, creating ripples within the state's political circles, Congress leader and former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah had expressed the desire to occupy the top post again, saying so in as many words. This had led to senior Congress leaders attempting to issue a clarification, saying that "Siddaramaiah only meant his party coming back to power in next assembly elections". Interestingly, Siddaramaiah had earlier said that he would not contest the next Lok Sabha polls.
Meanwhile, Karnataka agriculture minister Shivashankara Reddy has indirectly supported Siddaramaiah. The minister, when asked about Siddaramaiah's ambitions to become the CM, indicated that if the coordination committee agrees then there would be change.
"In the future, if the members coordination committee comes together and take a call then perhaps we can see some change, Congress and JDS can take a call on it", he said.
The Congress had emerged the second-biggest party in the recent Karnataka Assembly elections, with the BJP falling sufficient seats short of a majority for Siddaramaiah's party to issue an unconditional offer of support to the third-biggest party, the JD(S). However, it was the BJP's Yeddyurappa who took oath as Chief Minister first, only to step down before having to undertake a floor test, presumably because he didn't have the numbers. Following this, Deve Gowda's son HD Kumaraswamy took oath as the Chief Minister, with the oath-taking ceremony serving as a show-of-strength for Opposition parties.
However, there have been numerous indications of things not entirely running smoothly under the alliance, with Kumaraswamy issuing a number of statements, and even breaking into tears on one occasion, on account of 'swallowing the poison of coalition.'