As the discontent in Congress appears to be damaging the coalition government’s image, party president Rahul Gandhi will be holding a meeting with Congress leaders, including former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, on Wednesday to resolve differences.Mr. Gandhi is likely to hold talks separately with a Congress team led by Mr. Siddaramaiah, and with former Minister and MLA Satish Jarkiholi.
Rahul Gandhi will hold a meeting with Mr. Siddaramaiah, Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president Dinesh Gundu Rao, and AICC general secretary in charge of Karnataka K.C. Venugopal. Later, he will meet Mr. Jarkiholi, sources said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Siddaramaiah told presspersons here on Tuesday that there are no dissident activities in the State Congress and “all is well in the party”. “No MLA is resigning from Congress and joining BJP. Our party legislators are disciplined soldiers,” he said.
Asked about the Jarkiholi brothers, he shot back and said: “Who are you? Are you solving it? There is a party high command to look into the issue.”
Mr. Siddaramaiah later tweeted: “The rumours of MLAs toppling the government are baseless and unfounded. There may be slight differences over development in their constituencies and that does not mean quitting. None of the MLAs will leave the party. @BJP Karnataka, led by their power-hungry leaders, is trying hard to topple the government but any efforts towards that direction is futile.”
About his scheduled visit to Delhi, Mr. Siddaramaiah said he will be meeting Mr. Gandhi to select candidates for six vacant Legislative Council seats.
The bypolls to three Legislative Council seats will be held on October 3. The Congress will field two candidates, while JD(S) one. The coalition partners will follow the same pattern in nomination of candidates to three vacant seats in the Council.
The Congress leader said he will not hold talks on Cabinet expansion with Mr. Gandhi.
Three rebel Cong meet Rahul Gandhi today
Miffed over some party leaders reportedly putting forth a demand that a particular MLA from Ballari district be given ministerial berth in the coalition government, three Congress MLAs have rushed to New Delhi to meet the party high command to inform that they were also aspirants for a ministerial berth.
E. Tukaram, Bhima Naik and J. N. Ganesha told mediapersons here on Wednesday before leaving for New Delhi that the high command should decide who should be inducted into the Cabinet, not someone from outside the district.
“We will be happy if anyone among six MLAs is given the ministerial berth. But the party high command should take a decision,” they opened.
CM Kumaraswamy in Damage control mode
In a damage control exercise, Mr. Kumaraswamy held an hour-long meeting with the Jarkiholi brothers and sought some time to look into their demands.
The Jarkiholi brothers have reportedly placed three major demands before the party and the Chief Minister.
These are: to give the Deputy Chief Minister’s post to their faction; induction of a ‘powerful’ Nayaka community MLA from Ballari into the Cabinet, and stopping “interference” of Water Resources Minister D.K. Shivakumar in the party and in the affairs of Belagavi district.
The Janata Dal (Secular) has been constantly urging the Congress high command to sort out the problem. Mr. Siddaramaiah, who was asked to step in by AICC general secretary in-charge of Karnataka K.C. Venugopal to broker peace, held a meeting with the Jarkiholi brothers on Monday. However, the talks on the crucial demand for Deputy Chief Minister’s post could not make headway.
Following apparent failure of talks, the Jarkiholi brothers reportedly intensified their dissident activity claiming that the Opposition BJP was ready to grant the Deputy Chief Minister’s post for their faction if they switched sides.
However, Congress sources said the Jarkiholi brothers’ politics were confined only to Belagavi district and had nothing to do with the Deputy Chief Minister’s post.
Expecting trouble for the government, Mr. Kumaraswamy rushed to the Jarkiholi brothers and assured them to look into their demands. Though publicly, Mr. Satish Jarkiholi maintained that they would not quit the Congress, simmering discontent remains.
In fact, it was Mr. Kumaraswamy, who to some extent, made efforts to bring order when the former Minister M.B. Patil had raised the banner of revolt soon after the Cabinet formation three months ago.
Meanwhile, the Congress high command also summoned Mr. Satish Jarkiholi to Delhi to hear his grievances on Wednesday. Mr. Siddaramaiah too would be holding a meeting with party president Rahul Gandhi and is expected to discuss this issue.
To settle scores with Mr. Shivakumar, who played a vital role in the victory of candidates of Ms. Hebbalkar in the PLD Bank elections, the Jarkiholi brothers reportedly urged the Chief Minister to stop his interference in Belagavi district. Moreover, the induction of a Ballari MLA into the Cabinet would pave the way for a new Minister to take charge as district in charge of Ballari. Currently, Mr. Shivakumar is the in-charge Minister of Ballari.
ED initiates money laundering probe against D.K. Shivakumar
Among those under the scanner is a Karnataka Bhavan employee whose name has also come up during the Income-Tax probe.
The Enforcement Directorate has initiated a money laundering probe against Karnataka Minister D.K. Shivakumar and his associates in connection with the Income-Tax Department’s findings.
Among those under the scanner is a Karnataka Bhavan employee whose name has also come up during the Income-Tax probe. In its charge sheet, the I-T Department had alleged use of a “hawala” channel, with links in Bengaluru and Delhi, to facilitate illegal money transfers.
In August last year, the Department had also conducted searches and found about ?20 crore in cash. Mr. Shivakumar had earlier alleged that he was being targeted by the agency.