Monthlong Congress-JD(S) honeymoon in Karnataka is now heading for troubled waters.
At the heart of the matter is a clash between Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and his predecessor Siddaramaiah over budget presentation. While Siddaramaiah wanted an interim budget so that his promises made in the previous budget could be implemented, HDK wants to present a full-fledged budget on July 5 to fulfil his promises and give the budget papers a JD(S) touch.
What has irked Siddaramaiah and senior Congress leaders in the state is by the way HDK is practicing what is called ‘bypass’ politics. He gets all his plans approved by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, thus leaving local leaders fretting, fuming and red-faced.
Almost immediately, Siddarmaiah, who heads the JD(S)- Congress coordination committee, vanished from the political radar and headed to a naturopathy retreat in the coastal town of Dharmasthala. Though he had said he is detoxifying himself and would keep off non-vegetarian food and politics, he has been feeding on sumptuous platefuls of hard politics holding parleys with MLA-confidants, including ST Somashekar, Byrathi Suresh and N Muniratna.
Recently, a video of him disparaging Kumaraswamy’s decision to present a fresh budget and ridiculing the farm loan waiver proposal has gone viral.
“From where will he (Kumaraswamy) bring money to waive farm loans? What is the necessity of waiving farm loans now when my government has waived loans upto Rs 50,000 last year itself? No farmer has died in my village because of loans,” Siddaramaiah was heard saying in a mocking tone.
As the video clip went viral, an angry Kumaraswamy said “I am not at the mercy of anybody. You (Congress) have not given me this seat in alms. You better mind it. I don’t care how long I will continue in office.”
“Am I going to get ‘commission’ by waiving farm loans? I am only trying to help farmers who are in distress. Don’t try to create unnecessary confusion. I know who is getting commission,” an upset Kumaraswamy said at a meeting today.
As the war between Siddaramaiah and HDK intensified, disgruntled Congressmen started to take advantage, putting pressure on the Chief Minister. According to sources, around 15 MLAs, mostly Lingayats, are in touch with BJP opposition party leader B S Yeddyurappa, the undisputed Lingayat leader.
Amid all these developments, Yeddyurappa left for Ahmedabad to meet party chief Amit Shah. He played hide and seek with the press and managed to slip away to the airport in a private vehicle. Accompanying him was senior party colleague Basavaraj Bommai, a Lingayat leader and son of former chief minister SR Bommai.
Officially, Yeddyurappa and Bommai are in Ahmedabad to hold talks with Shah on the Lok Sabha polls and to invite him for the state BJP executive committee meeting scheduled for June 29. But that is a fig leaf of a cover. His sudden trip to Ahmedabad sparked speculation that he is ready for the second edition of ‘Operation Kamala’ where dissident Congress MLAs would be asked to resign and recontest as independents with BJP support.
Sources said that Shah has asked Yeddyurappa to go slow and let the Congress-JD(S) government crumble on its own weight of contradictions.
Sources also said that when the Karnataka legislature session begins on July 2, the BJP plans to move a no-confidence motion to upset the CM and also test how conducive the political waters are to take a plunge.