Amidst rumours of rebel Congress legislators being holed up in a Mumbai, a sequence of confabulations are being held by former chief minister and head of the coordination committee, Siddaramaiah and have resulted in JDS-Cong road map for handling the political crisis plaguing the Karnataka government.
Republic learnt the inside track of marathon meetings chaired by Siddaramaiah on Thursday and Friday at his residence in Bengaluru to nip the revolt in the bud. On late Thursday evening, KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao and water resources minister DK Shivakumar visited Siddaramaiah to discuss the political scenario, even as regional news channels continued to hypothesise over peeved MLAs going to a 5-star hotel in Mumbai to make their displeasure evident.
In the meeting, Republic TV has learnt, the mercurial congress strongman DK Shivakumar offered to lead a counter-poaching campaign, to be dubbed ‘Operation Hasta’ as a riposte to BJP’s reported attempts to woo close to a dozen congress legislators to abandon the party and join the Saffron party in Karnataka.
DK Shivakumar had held a fiesty press conference at his home residence on Wednesday where he refuted the charges made by BJP of him and his business partners indulging in hoarding and transporting unaccounted for money using hawala route. DKS, as he is popularly known, had lashed out at the central government, claiming that his family and associates had been tortured by officials of agencies like the Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax and forcefully, statements were extracted against him.
DKS is reported to have displayed the same streak at Thursday’s meeting. And suggested that Congress should get on the offensive and poach over 13 of BJP mlas who are in touch with him.
To this, Siddaramaiah seemed reluctant, saying this could be an overreaction and could very well boomerang on the Congress party during the Lok sabha campaign.
On Friday, even as party workers from Siddaramaiah's hometown Mysuru had gathered at his Bengaluru residence to greet him, an unscheduled meeting commenced. Deputy chief minister G Parameshwara, Dinesh Gundu Rao, DKS along with chief minister HD Kumaraswamy assembled to deliberate the machination in light of increasing activities in the Congress camp.
The conversation revolved around tiding over the current dissidence. HDK was asked to accommodate the requests of congress MLAs more diligently to expel sentiments of the them being marginalised in the government. The decision to impede the cabinet expansion to post-November was taken; the lobbying legislators will have hope left and the party, some grip over them.
Then the issue of appointments of leaders to corporation boards was discussed. Most boards don't have a fixed tenure and appointments are usually made to placate legislators who couldn't be given cabinet berths. Since the current government came to power, while CM HDK had issued a circular asking all chairpersons of boards to resigns, new appointments have not been made. A decision to shortlist a few candidates was taken.
The upcoming Lok sabha elections will be a litmus test for the JDS-Congress combine and their government in Karnataka. And holding the ship together till then will be a herculean task for leaders of both parties.