Karnataka crisis: Senior Cong leader blames Siddaramaiah, calls him ‘thief inside party’

Bengaluru: A senior Congress, who is in charge of keeping the flock of legislators together, on Sunday blamed party strongman Siddaramaiah for sabotaging the Karnataka government coalition, terming the former chief minister “a thief inside the party”.

The senior party leader, on condition of anonymity, said Siddaramaiah is “playing games” to wreck the Congress-JD(S) coalition for “his prestige”.

“There are thieves inside the house (Congress). One man (Siddaramaiah) is doing this for his prestige. He is playing all these games. MLAs who are there (in Mumbai) are in constant touch with Siddaramaiah but I don’t know what my party high command is doing,” the senior Congress leader stated.

Earlier today, Siddaramaiah refuting claims about him being the reason behind the crisis.

“I am in touch with 5-6 MLAs. I can’t reveal all the details. Everybody is loyal to the party. It is not a question of a person being loyal to me. Everybody is expected to be loyal to the party,” Siddaramaiah had told reporters.

The coalition government in Karnataka slumped into crisis on Saturday following the resignation of their 11 MLAs from the membership of the state Assembly. The rebel legislators are lodged at a hotel in Mumbai.

The developments have sent leaders of both the parties in a huddle with senior leaders holding a slew of meetings to contain the situation. While the Congress has blamed the BJP for the crisis, a number of BJP leaders have pegged it on Siddaramaiah terming him “greedy” for the chief minister post.

Congress leader DK Shivakumar meeting JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda at his residence to discuss ongoing political turmoil. “They (JDS) have called for a meeting of their party leaders and we will also call our party leaders and will sort it out this issue. I am confident that things will cool down immediately. In the interest of the nation and both parties, we have to run government smoothly. I am confident MLAs will come back,” he told ANI after the meeting.

The JD(S), on the other hand, seemed stern on its part asking Congress for its final decision by the evening.

“We have sent our message through DK Shivakumar to KC Venugopal (Karnataka Congress in-charge) to convince their MLAs and let the government run smoothly. It’s very difficult for us to face such situations time and again. This time it needs to be clear. We have also called legislature meet this evening and will tell our MLAs to be with party and decisions,” a senior JDS leader told ANI.

“We need your final decision, and speak to your party leaders and clear it,” the JD(S) told ally Congress.

Congress leaders KC Venugopal and Mallikarjun Kharge met CLP leader Sidharamaiah, Deputy Chief Minister Dr G Parameshwara, state Home Minister MB Patil, Priyank Kharge and Satish Jarakiholi at Windsor Manor Hotel in Bengaluru.

Cutting his visit short, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy will be flying back to India from the US on Sunday evening.

The strength of the ruling coalition in Karnataka has come down to 105, which is eight short of the half-way mark of 113.

Congress MLAs Anand Singh and Ramesh Jarkiholi had resigned from the government earlier this week.

Those MLAs, who resigned from the Assembly, include BC Patil, H Vishwanath, Narayan Gowda, S Hebbar, Mahesh Kumatalli, Gopalayya, Ramesh Jharkiholi, and Pratap Gowda Patil. The dissident MLAs have reached Mumbai and are staying in Mumbai’s Sofitel Hotel.