Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Fear of coalition fissures returns as disgruntled Congress leader inspects Karnataka resort

Satish Jarkiholi has on earlier occasions raised suspicion of whisking away legislators to display his displeasure of being left out of the first cabinet list

Hyderabad: The media in Karnataka went into a tizzy on Monday when Congress leader Satish Jarkiholi was spotted inspecting a resort in Belagavi district, raising suspicion that all was not well in the Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress coalition government whose stability has been in question ever since it was formed six months ago.

Jarkiholi, whose brother, Ramesh Jarkiholi, is a minister in the chief minister H.D.Kumaraswamy-led government, has on earlier occasions raised suspicion of whisking away legislators to display his displeasure of being left out of the first cabinet list.

Jarkiholi dismissed questions about the resort saying that he had casually visited the place but there were no other intentions. Jarkiholi’s presence in a resort that came a day after local news channels repeatedly played up a telephone conversation allegedly between a close aide of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) strongman, B.Sriramulu and a Dubai-based man, discussing the defection of Congress legislators.

Sriramulu has dismissed the contents of the tape and called it a conspiracy by the coalition government. The JD(S) and Congress have accused the BJP of trying to woo legislators with the promise of money and plum ministerial posts. The BJP, which has 104 seats out of the 224, has been reduced to the opposition while the Congress and JD(S) with 82 and 38 seats (including one from Bahujan Samaj Party) respectively, allied to form the government.

Congress has accused the BJP of trying to poach legislators to bring down the government and form it on its own, as the saffron outfit is just eight shy of a simple majority.

The likelihood of a coup, bringing back dark memories of ‘resort politics’ that political parties across the country have used to shield their legislators from any attempts of poaching by rival camps, sometimes within its own party.

Pioneered by late Andhra Pradesh chief minister N.T. Rama Rao around 1984, ‘resort politics’ has been used by political parties in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Incidentally, Karnataka has always played host to legislators from other states.

Tamil Nadu has also witnessed resort politics when around 100 legislators of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) were lodged at the Golden Bay resort for weeks by party leader V.K.Sasikala to avoid any poaching by the rival camp, sending the state into complete paralysis.

In Karnataka, former tourism minister and mining baron G. Janardhana Reddy whisked away around 20 legislators to force chief minister B.S.Yeddyurappa out in 2011. Months later, Yeddyurappa himself resorted to this strategy to remove D.V. Sadananda Gowda as chief minister.