The actions of the leaders of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), in Karnataka are turning out to be a huge challenge for the year-old ruling alliance in the state, which appears to be in complete disarray with news of more legislators likely to quit the coalition.
Dinesh Gundu Rao, the state Congress president, left for London on Tuesday for a vacation with his family, a day after legislators Anand Singh and Ramesh Jarkiholi handed in their resignation, sparking fears that more resignations could follow suit. Chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, of the JD(S), is also in the US on a private tour.
Rao is one of just two members in the state committee whose position has not been dissolved by the party in its reorganization exercise.
“Dinesh Gundu Rao knows that the government is safe and he has a personal life," said D.K. Shivakumar, senior Congress leader, defending his party president.
Shivakumar was confident that other rebels such as B. Nagendra and Mahesh Kumathalli would not resign and that Singh would reconsider his decision. “We are not in any such situation that we have to convince our legislators to stay back," Shivakumar said.
Making matters worse between the alliance partners, senior JD(S) leader, G.T. Deve Gowda said that neither the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah nor Prime Minister Narendra Modi can be held responsible for the resignations of Congress legislators. “No one can throw muck at the BJP," Gowda said on Tuesday.
The Congress holds the BJP responsible for the trouble in the ruling coalition.
“The BJP has started a new strategy where they claim that the MLAs (members of legislative assembly) resigned of their own accord and the BJP did not have a hand in this. However, there is no doubt that this is all their doing," former Karnataka chief minister and chairman of the coordination and monitoring committee, Siddaramaiah said in Bengaluru on Tuesday.
Dissent within the Congress has become a cause for concern within the party. Tanveer Sait, the party legislator from Narasimharaja in Mysuru district, said minorities were not being valued by the party. His statement mirrored that of senior colleague R. Roshan Baig who had asked members of his community not to become mere vote banks of the Congress and look towards the BJP.
The JD(S) and Congress have been unable to overcome their bitter and bloody past that had adversely impacted the coalition’s chances and handed the BJP its biggest ever parliamentary victory in Karnataka as it won 25 out of the total 28 seats.
Since the parliamentary results were declared on 23 May, the coalition has been trying to reconcile the differences without much success.