Bengaluru: Senior Congress leader and minister D K Shivakumar on Saturday said all ministers in the party, including him, were ready to step aside from the cabinet in the interest of the party to accommodate those MLAs who are dissatisfied.
"We are loyal soldiers of the party. When Dharm Singh government was there I was kept out of the government for political reasons...in the last regime I was MLA for sixth term, Siddaramaiah could not include me in his cabinet (initially)," Shivakumar said.
Speaking to reporters in Bengaluru, he said this time it was a coalition government, and several legislators, who were senior to him- V Muniyappa, Ramalinga Reddy, Roshan Baig, H K Patil - are not part of the government.
"If need be, including myself, I'm telling you, we are ready to sacrifice for the party, for the workers, for legislators. Nothing is important. Party is important to us we want to bring back our party with flying colours," he said in response to a question.
Shivakumar also said the "decision" was arrived at a meeting of Congress ministers held a few days ago.
He said "I voluntarily have offered (to step down)… In the interest of the party, if my leaders want, I'm ready." To a question how many ministers were ready to resign, he said "All of us are ready..."
The statement by the Congress' "trouble shooter" gains significance as there is simmering discontent within a section in the party over not getting cabinet berth during the recent rejig.
To a question about getting in touch with MLAs, including Nagendra and Umesh Jadhav who were absent from the CLP meeting on Friday, Shivakumar said, "I'm in touch with all MLAs...I don't want to disclose."
He said there were no "rebels" in the party and downplayed dissatisfaction within the party. "Who is rebel? I don't know, I have not seen any rebels," he said.
To a question how long Congress legislators will stay in the resort, Shivakumar said "Let me see...discussions are on district by district, constituency wise discussions are on (regarding Parliamentary election), also about the development work in each constituency."
Asked whether MLAs would return from the resort on Sunday, without giving any direct response, he said "Can they stay there itself?"
Congress on Friday had shifted all its MLAs to a resort to allegedly "escape" from the BJP's "onslaught." On BJP going for a state-wide tour to study drought, Shivakumar, terming it as a "good" move, assured full cooperation from the government.
He also asked BJP legislators still in Delhi, to put pressure on the Prime Minister and Rural Development Minister "to get back our MNREGA money" of about Rs 1,500 crore that is pending with the Centre.