Congress is facing discontent over ministry rejig in Karnataka

Bengaluru: Disgruntlement within the Congress triggered by the H D Kumaraswamy ministry rejig in Karnataka continued to simmer Monday with miffed ministerial aspirants pouring out their anger publicly.

Sulking over being dropped as minister, Ramesh Jarkiholi indicated his plans to quit as party MLA and said he would make his decision public in four days. Supporters of another senior state Congress leader Ramalinga Reddy protested after holding a meeting here and expressing displeasure about their leader not being considered during the cabinet expansion Saturday.

Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy sought to play down the developments, saying such “emotional reactions” were common and he would speak to the sulking leaders and pacify them. His father and JDS supremo H D Deve Gowda dismissed any threat to the government and said it was stable and the alliance will ‘efficiently’ fight the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

In the much-awaited exercise, the six-month old Congress-JDS coalition ministry headed by Kumaraswamy was expanded Saturday with the induction of eight members from the national party. However, it was marked by rumblings of dissidence as several senior congress MLAs are upset over their exclusion, with legislators, including Reddy, B C Patil, B K Sangamesh and Bheema Naik, coming out openly to give vent to their anger.

Meanwhile, allocation of portfolios to the newly inducted Ministers is also getting delayed. Sources said, the wait is on for the arrival of Congress General Secretary in-charge of Karnataka K C Venugopal as there was growing demand for plump portfolios among the new ministers.

Ramesh Jarkiholi told reporters Monday: “Did you see TV yesterday; I’m committed to it. when, why all these things I will discuss (with supporters) and decide… whatever you heard about my phone conversation, I’m committed to it.”

He said, “Give me four days time. I will inform the people of the state about my decision. I have many things to discuss with you (media).” A purported conversation involving Ramesh Jarkiholi was aired by local TV channels on Sunday where he can be heard speaking about his plans to quit as a Congress MLA, which had fueled speculations about him defecting to the BJP.

Ramesh Jarkiholi, accused of hobnobbing with the BJP, along with R Shankar, an Independent lawmaker who showed reluctance to be an associate member of the Congress, were dropped during the rejig.

The Congress leader, who was also not attending cabinet and party meetings, has been replaced by his brother Satish Jarkiholi. He has been claiming support of a sizeable chunk of party MLAs and had come under the party scanner over reports that BJP was trying to tap him to dislodge the government.

Supporters of Reddy, who had held the home portfolio in the previous Congress ministry, said they have decided to petition the party leadership for inducting him into the cabinet at the earliest and threatened to quit their posts if it was not done.

Reddy had on Sunday openly alleged that “injustice” was meted out to him. Reacting to the development, Kumaraswamy said, he will speak to Jarkiholi, Reddy and other MLAs and pacify them.

“Such developments or emotional reactions are common when expectations are not met. I will speak to MLAs, Ramesh who is my good friend, also Ramalinga Reddy.” he told reporters. “All MLAs are efficient,” he said adding that “such reactions are common in today’s political scenario. Congress has ability to resolve the issues. I will also talk to them as I share good relationship with them.”

On his part, Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao said, no MLA will quit the party and “we are all together and there will nodamage to the government which is “very stable.”

Warning against any anti-party activity, he said such actions would be viewed seriously. Leader of the party in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said in Kalburgi that no one will leave the party, adding the Jarkiholi brothers had worked for Congress party.

Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah too said, “no one will resign….there is no such thing.” Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara said the decision to leave out Reddy from the cabinet was taken by the party high command.

Reacting to media reports about Reddy blaming him and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Krishna Byre Gowda for his exclusion, he said: “we are not responsible for it.. it is the decision of the party high command, they have only taken suggestions from us….” he added.