Setback for Congress as it misses majority in Karnataka Council: Dispute over guarantee schemes come to the fore

Adding to the ruling party's headaches, several ministers and MLAs are publicly expressing their discontent over the failure of guarantees schemes to convert into votes for the party in the parliament elections.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Jun 14, 2024 | 10:00 AM Updated Jun 14, 2024 | 10:00 AM

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah presenting the budget

In yet another setback for the Congress’ Karnataka unit, the BJP-JD(S) alliance continues to hold a majority in the Karnataka Legislative Council as the ruling party managed to win only three of the six seats in the biennial elections held on 3 June.

After a stellar victory in the 2023 Karnataka assembly polls, Congress had an opportunity to get a clear majority in the legislative council as well, if it had managed to win all six seats in the recently concluded MLC elections for the teachers’ and graduates’ segments.

The party also failed to get a majority in the upper house despite unanimously electing another seven of its leaders to the legislative council on 6 June.

Amidst this, adding to the ruling party’s headaches, several ministers and MLAs are publicly expressing their discontent over the failure of guarantee schemes to convert into votes for the party in the parliament elections.

The party leaders are also hinting that they would place an appeal before Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to reconsider the guarantee schemes. This has irked the state leadership.

Enraged by all this, a section of party leaders, especially MLC Dinesh Guligowda, has penned a letter to the chief minister and the KPCC chief, asking them to direct the ministers, legislators and leaders to refrain from making negative statements on guarantee schemes.

Considering the letter and other developments Following the Lok Sabha election results, the chief minister and the deputy chief minister are said to have also directed the party leaders not to make negative comments about the guarantee schemes.

Also Read: Rahul Gandhi unhappy with K’taka Congress performance in LS polls, demands accountability

Another jolt for Congress, NDA holds majority in council

After a below-par performance in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka, Congress, the ruling party in the state, has failed to get a majority in the legislative council despite electing ten MLCs in the last week.

Out of these ten elected members, seven were elected unanimously and three were elected in the legislative council graduates’ and teachers’ seats elections.

In the elections held for three graduates’ and three teachers’ constituencies in Karnataka on 3 June, Congress won three seats, BJP won one, and JD(S) won two seats.

Congress’ DT Srinivas won from the Karnataka South East Teachers’ seat, Ramoji Gowda won from Bangalore Graduates’ and Chandrashekar Patil won from the North East Graduates’ seat.

BJP’s Dhananjay Sarji won from the South West Graduates’ segment, which is the only seat the party won out of the four seats it contested in the biennial elections. JD(S) nominee SL Bhojegowda won from South West Teachers’ seat and K Vivekananda won from South Teachers’ segment.

In the 75-member upper house, Congress increased its strength to 35 seats, and BJP-JD(S) alliance to 38 seats. With this, the BJP-JD(S) continues to hold a majority in the legislative council. The two seats remain vacant.

The ruling party would have got the majority, if it had won all the six seats in the MLC elections. Now, the grand old party has to wait until 2026 to get a majority in the upper house despite the upcoming two nominations for the council.

Also Read: K’taka Congress leader takes dig at NDA for not inducting any BC, Dalit MP from state

Party optimistic of getting majority in council

Minister for Minor Irrigation NS Boseraju, who is the leader of the legislative council, told South First: “Yes, we could not get the majority in the legislative council. We had the chance, if we had won all the six seats in the recently concluded MLC elections.”

“There are few more nominations for the legislative council coming up including that of the seat vacated due to the resignation of former CM Jagadish Shettar. We will get a majority in the council in the coming days,” Boseraju exuded confidence.

When asked whether it is a setback for the Congress, Boseraju said: “It is not a setback for the Congress. In the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council, the members will be retiring every two years.”

“We will get a chance to fill the seats only when a seat is vacant. We cannot conduct elections as per our wishes. We won ten seats and expect to get two more seats in the coming days. We will get the majority in future for sure,” reiterated the minister.

On managing to win only three out of the six seats in the MLC elections despite giving guarantee for the unemployed graduates and issuing government appointment orders to thousands of teachers, Boseraju said: “We won three seats, where BJP-JD(S) alliance won the remaining three seats. The party winning three seats itself is a big matter.”

“There is no guarantee that all the beneficiaries of Yuva Nidhi will vote for the party. There are graduates who are employed as lawyers, teachers and in other professions, whose votes are also taken into consideration,” Boseraju said, adding that the party is happy with the results.

Also Read: 51 out of 131 MPs from South are debutants; Congress’ Sasikanth Senthil wins with over 5 lakh margin

Discontent among ministers, MLCs over guarantee schemes

After the 2024 Lok Sabha poll results, several ministers and legislators of the Congress are publicly expressing their discontent over guarantees, and this has irked the state party leadership.

A year ago, the Congress leaders were jubilant on announcing these guarantee schemes as it yielded the party a stellar victory in the 2023 assembly polls.

Now, the same ruling party leaders – upset over the parliament election results – are blaming the guarantee schemes that failed to yield the expected outcome in the elections. The leaders are demanding the government to reconsider these schemes, which cost over ₹52,000 crore to the state exchequer annually.

On the defeat of Bangalore Rural incumbent MP DK Suresh, Congress’ Magadi MLA HC Balakrishna told the media, “It is better if the state government halts the guarantee schemes.”

“Despite these schemes providing benefits to crores of families and opposition criticising them, voters supported the BJP. Does it not mean that people did not like guarantee schemes?” asked Balakrishna.

Similarly, Congress’ Bilgi MLA JT Patil told reporters in Bagalkot, “The guarantees are hindering the development works. Those who are taking benefits are not voting for us. Guarantee schemes were not effective in the parliament elections.”

“The government must reconsider these guarantees. We will meet the chief minister to hold talks on the matter. We will not remove free buses to all (women) but discussions will be made on whom to give and how much to give,” Patil stated.

A section of upset leaders is said to have appealed to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy CM Shivakumar to issue strict guidelines to the ministers and legislators.

Also Read: ‘Warning bell for us’, says K’taka Congress chief on LS poll outcome

‘No question of discontinuing guarantees’

Congress’ MLC Dinesh Gooligowda has penned a letter to the Chief Minister and Deputy CM, asking them to issue strict directives to the ministers and MLAs to refrain from making negative comments on the guarantees.

Regarding the statements made by several ministers and MLAs about guarantee schemes failing to convert into votes in the Lok Sabha polls, Minister Boseraju said, “Reconsidering the guarantee schemes is impossible. The high command has set guidelines on the matter.”

“The party has also set up a committee to assess what went wrong for the party in the elections. The assessment is underway. There is no need to give instructions for the ministers and MLAs to refrain from commenting on the matter.”

“AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge, KPCC chief Deputy CM DK Shivakumar and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah will look into the matter. If everyone starts making such statements as per their whims and fancies, it amounts to indiscipline,” Boseraju said, adding that the government will continue the guarantees.

On anonymity, a senior MLC told South First: “The party leadership has issued directives to the party leaders not to make any negative statements on guarantees.”

“There is no question of discontinuing the guarantees. It is not just the guarantees but various factors also matter for the party’s performance in the elections. The state leadership is assessing the parliament election results,” added the lawmaker.

(Edited by Shauqueen Mizaj)

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