Even as the suspense continued over the Congress’s chief minister in Karnataka, former minister Dr K Sudhakar has alleged that senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah inspired him and others to cross the floor to the BJP in 2019.
The Congress-JD(S) government was toppled after 17 MLAs from the two parties defected and joined the BJP in 2019.
Siddaramaiah and KPCC president DK Shivakumar are in the race to the Chief Minister’s Office after the Congress won 135 seats in the 10 May polls to the 224-member Assembly.
The former minister made the allegation that Siddaramaiah had engineered the defections in a series of tweets. Sudhakar was among 12 senior ministers — besides the Speaker — who lost the polls. Congress candidate Pradeep Eshwar defeated him in the Chikkaballapur Assembly segment.
Sudhakar alleged that Siddaramaiah had stated that he would not allow the coalition government to continue after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The allegation, however, was contrary to the former minister’s earlier statements about the senior Congress leader.
“In 2018, whenever the MLAs approached Siddaramaiah, the chairman of the Coordination Committee, to complain about the injustice meted out to us, he used to say that nothing is happening in this government, in his constituency and his district,” Sudhakar tweeted.
2018ರಲ್ಲಿ ಅಂದಿನ ಜೆಡಿಎಸ್-ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ ಸಮ್ಮಿಶ್ರ ಸರ್ಕಾರದಲ್ಲಿ ನಮಗಾಗುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ಅನ್ಯಾಯದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಹೇಳಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಶಾಸಕರುಗಳು ಸಮನ್ವಯ ಸಮಿತಿ ಅಧ್ಯಕ್ಷರಾಗಿದ್ದ ಮಾನ್ಯ ಸಿದ್ದರಾಮಯ್ಯನವರ ಬಳಿ ಹೋದಾಗಲೆಲ್ಲ ಈ ಸರ್ಕಾರದಲ್ಲಿ ನನ್ನದೇ ಏನು ನಡೆಯುತ್ತಿಲ್ಲ, ನನ್ನ ಕ್ಷೇತ್ರದ, ನನ್ನ ಜಿಲ್ಲೆಯ ಕೆಲಸಗಳೇ ಆಗುತ್ತಿಲ್ಲ ಎಂದು ಹೇಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು.
— Dr. Sudhakar K (@mla_sudhakar) May 17, 2023
He consoled the MLAs saying that he would not allow the HD Kumaraswamy-led coalition government to continue even for a single day after the Lok Sabha elections, the former minister claimed.
Sudhakar dares Siddaramaiah
Sudhakar then challenged Siddaramaiah to deny his charge.
“To keep the trust alive among the leaders and party workers that believed us in our segments, we took a big risk and resigned, and once again got elected and became ministers. Can Siddaramaiah deny that he had no direct or indirect role in our action,” Sudhakar dared, while blaming the former chief minister for the collapse of the alliance government.
Incidentally, Sudhakar had repeatedly told the media earlier that Siddaramaiah had attempted to convince him to stay with the Congress to prevent the collapse of the coalition government till its last day.
“Siddaramaiah kept urging me not to leave the party till the last day. However, the decision to quit the party was already made,” Sudhakar had then said.
“I had no plans of quitting the Congress. It happened because of unexpected political developments. I had also expressed my pain before the party leadership for the first 14 months of the coalition government. I had no trust on the government,” Sudhakar stated.
ಅವತ್ತು ನೀವೇ ಹೇಳಿದ್ದ್ದು ಸಿದ್ದರಾಮಯ್ಯ ನಮ್ಮೂನು ತಡೆಯಲು ತುಂಬಾ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನ ಮಾಡಿದರು 🤣🤣 ನಿಮ್ಮದು ಎಂತಾ ಬಾಳು ಸ್ವಾಮಿ pic.twitter.com/3q1a6YAq4O
— ಮಾದಿಗ ಧ್ವನಿ-VoiceOfMadiga® (@JaiBhimMadiga) May 17, 2023
“I had no intention of walking away from the grand old party. He is a very straightforward and tough politician. If he wanted, he would have directly asked Kumaraswamy to step down from the post,” he had said.
“Siddaramaiah doesn’t involve in backstabbing. I believe that he has no role in the collapse of the coalition government,” Sudhakar said while he was a Cabinet minister in the BS Yediyurappa government in 2020.
It may also be noted that among the 17 defectors, the majority of them were close aides of Siddaramaiah. BJP’s former ministers ST Somashekar, MTB Nagraj, Byrathi Basavaraj, Sudhakar, and Muniratna were familiar faces in the Siddaramaiah faction.
The Congress-JD(S) government was toppled when 17 MLAs from the ruling government resigned from their Assembly constituencies and played a key role in bringing back BJP to the helm in Karnataka in July 2019.
Rahul meets Siddaramaiah, DKS
AICC’s former president Rahul Gandhi held a separate meeting with Siddaramaiah and KPCC chief DK Shivakumar to decide Karnataka’s next chief minister in Delhi on Wednesday, 17 May.
Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar held separate meetings with AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday, 16 May, even as the party held hectic consultations to decide the chief minister.
Siddaramaiah visited 10, Janpath and met Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday morning. Shivakumar, too, later met Gandhi.
In the afternoon, AICC chief Kharge was expected to hold a meeting with all observers and national general secretaries before making a final announcement on the chief minister.
The AICC had held a meeting with all the 135 newly-elected MLAs at a private hotel in Bengaluru. The meeting was held under the supervision of AICC-appointed observers: Former Union minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, AICC general secretary Deepak Babaria and former general secretary Jitendra Singh.
The observers asked all legislators for their choice of leader. Siddaramaiah got the support of over 90 legislators, party sources claimed.
BJP taunts Congress
Stating that AICC chief Kharge is a “postman”, BJP’s IT Cell head Amit Malviya said: “A sorry state of affairs prevails in Congress where president Mallikarjun Kharge sees himself more as a ‘postman’.”
In a tweet, Malivya said: “Want to watch the circus? Watch the Congress select their CM in Karnataka.”
Referring to the lobbying by Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar for the post of the chief minister, he said, “The BJP also holds discussions and deliberations to elect its CMs and has often ensured a smooth transition of power, even between CMs”.
Just to refresh memories of PM’s drum-beaters especially.
2017 UP Vidhan Sabha election results out on March 11th. Yogi appointed CM 8 days later on March 19th.
2021 Assam Vidhan Sabha election results out on May 3rd. Himanta Biswa Sarma became CM 7 days later on May 10th.…
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) May 17, 2023
“Despite elaborate consultations, you will never find BJP aspirants falling over each other, rallying supporters and issuing veiled threats to the party through the media.”
“On the contrary, last evening, Lutyens journalists, who DK Shivkumar hosted at a private hotel, almost appointed Siddaramaiah as the Karnataka CM. Sorry, state of affairs in the Congress, where Kharge sees himself more as a postman, let alone being a decision maker. He keeps referring to some High Command,” Malviya takes a dig at AICC’s central leadership.
Incidentally, several BJP leaders had quit the organisation after the saffron party denied them tickets to contest the polls.
Congress hits back
The Congress leaders on Wednesday hit out at the BJP for criticising it over the delay in declaring the chief minister of Karnataka and cited examples of when the BJP declared its chief ministers in Uttar Pradesh and Assam several days after winning the polls.
AICC general Secretary and Rajya Sabha member Jairam Ramesh tweeted: “Just to refresh memories of PM’s drum-beaters especially. 2017 UP Vidhan Sabha election results out on March 11th. Yogi Adityanath was appointed CM 8 days later on March 19th.”
“The 2021 Assam Assembly election results were out on 3 May. Himanta Biswa Sarma became the CM seven days later on 10 May 2021. There are many more such examples,” Ramesh said.