Bengaluru: Trouble for the coalition government in Karnataka is mounting with state Congress president G. Parameshwara facing dissent within the party.
The dissent stems from the fact that Parameshwara benefited the most after the Congress allied with the Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), to form the coalition government. “Many in the party believe he has been given too much power," said a senior party leader, requesting anonymity.
The fight between chief minister J.D. Kumaraswamy of the JD(S) and his predecessor Siddaramaiah of the Congress over the presentation of budget has already sown the seeds of discord between the month-old coalition partners. However, the dissent within the Congress could have far more damaging consequences.
Many senior Congress leaders openly expressed their displeasure about being left out of the cabinet and also questioning the appointment of Parameshwara as the deputy chief minister with key ministries such as home, Bengaluru development, youth empowerment and sports under him.
The denial of cabinet berths has also led to infighting and the formation of new factions within the party. Parameshwara has also been accused of not communicating the Congress party’s stand, including its reservations about presenting a full fledged budget, to Kumaraswamy.
“Parameshwara is not seen as somebody who takes all members of the party along. There is a lot of pent up anger against him in the party," said another senior state leader of the Congress, requesting anonymity.
Many party legislators were seen visiting Siddaramaiah near Mangaluru, where the former chief minister is taking a break after the elections at a nature cure centre, and expressed their displeasure on the functioning of the party unit under Parameshwara, said one person aware of the development. Parameshwara, who also rushed to visit Siddaramaiah soon after, could not be contacted for comment.
However, the Congress, which has gone to great lengths to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) out of the state, has had to bear the burden of balancing caste equations, facing rebellion within its ranks and even conceding the coveted finance portfolio to its smaller partner.
Though the Congress still has six vacant ministerial berths to fill, the party is taking its time to decide which leaders should be given the posts and at what cost.
The Congress in Karnataka has for a while had to deal with factionalism, with some of its leaders dividing the party into several influential camps before the elections and in the previous term. Though factionalism is not new to the Congress in Karnataka, its impact in a coalition set up could lead to the party losing the state, one of the last big ones still under its control.