Even though Karnataka Congress President D K Shivakumar and the party’s campaign committee chief M B Patil seemed to have called for a truce after the former’s statement raised heckles, there seems to be no end to the public spat between their supporters.
Shivakumar’s recent statement suggesting that Higher Education Minister C N Ashwath Narayan of the ruling BJP might have met Patil to seek protection’ from corruption allegations against him had stirred a public spat between both camps.
Denying any such meeting, Patil, the MLA from Babaleshwar, had taken strong exception to the KPCC president’s comments, stating that he will raise the matter at the party forum.
Shivakumar and Patil on Friday met at the party’s ‘Chintan Shivir’ in Rajasthan’s Udaipur, where Leader of the Opposition and former chief minister Siddaramaiah is said to have got them together and brokered peace.
Sharing a picture of them together, Shivakumar tweeted, “Sharing a light-hearted moment with my friend and fellow colleague Sri @MBPatil at Congress Party’s #ChintanShivir in Udaipur.”
Former Congress MP Divya Spandana (Ramya), who had expressed surprise over Shivakumar casting aspersions on Patil, while urging leaders to fight as one unit, took to Twitter by complementing party general secretary in-charge of Karnataka Randeep Singh Surjewala and another party functionary for the truce.
“Good job @rssurjewala @KBByju,” she tweeted commenting on a photo of Shivakumar and Patil at the Chintan Shivir.
However, Karnataka Pradesh Youth Congress president Mohammed Haris Nalapad sought to question Spandana’s association with the party, a day after she targeted him in a tweet pointing out that he was out on bail, after he initially attacked her for criticising Shivakumar.
Speaking to reporters in Mysuru, he said, “If anyone speaks against our leaders we will fight…Ramya was an MP from our party. I don’t know what she is doing or where she is since the last four years, let her clarify…What I have said is she should not have tweeted…is she right in tweeting (against Shivakumar)?”
Stating it is his right as a Congress worker of the party to question anyone who targets his leader, Nalapad said, “I will raise it at the party platform, but as she went public first, we have questioned her publicly. That’s all.”
Asked whether she belongs to the party, he said, “I don’t know, she is a former MP from the party…I’m unable to understand…if she was in the party she could have spoken to Shivakumar over phone, instead (of) tweeting. It was wrong, we condemn it…as far as I know, she has no responsibility in the party after resigning.”
Spandana had earlier headed the Congress’ social media team. Nalapad had initially accused her of seeking attention and trying to find a way back into the party.
Spandana had hit back with a tweet, “This boy Nalapad is the honourable KPYCC president (on bail), son of MLA Harris, and he’s questioning my integrity. Wah!”
She had also accused Shivakumar-led KPCC of unleashing trolls to target her following her comments against him. “So the office’ has circulated these messages among the congress leaders & volunteers asking them troll me. Save yourself the trouble-I’ll do it myself,” she said in a tweet with screenshots of content that party workers were allegedly asked to tweet against her.
“Office = @INCKarnataka under the leadership of the honourable KPCC president @DKShivakumar,” she said in another tweet.
Spandana had also urged AICC general secretary K C Venugopal to come to her rescue. “After I quit, she duped the congress of 8 crores & ran away’ was planted in the news esp Kannada channels in an attempt to destroy my credibility. I didn’t run away. I resigned for personal reasons. I certainly did not dupe the party of 8 crores. My mistake was staying silent-,” she tweeted. “Humble request to @kcvenugopalmp to please clarify with the media about this whenever you’re in Karnataka next. The least you can do for me Venugopal ji, so I don’t have to live with this abuse and trolling for the rest of my life,” she added.
With tweets attacking her allegedly from Shivakumar’s supporters, Patil on Thursday had jumped to her defence, while also signalling about truce with Shivakumar.
“Congress is a party of internal democracy. Unwritten code of ethics exist in politics. Those were breached. Hence @divyaspandana, voiced her opinion in the best interest of the party,” he tweeted.
Some in the party have spoken out of turn and demeaned her, Patil said, adding, she is a former MP and has worked against all odds for the party. “Whilst the KPCC president himself had asked all to end the discussion. Furthering it is uncalled for and detrimental to Karnataka 2023. I urge all partymen and women to end this here, and focus on the larger mission. Let’s work together,” he added.
Earlier on Thursday, Shivakumar expressing surprise over the controversy following his statement said, “When asked by reporters about (Karnataka minister) Narayan meeting Patil, I said the former may have met the latter seeking protection…If someone is hurt, we will discuss inside the party.”
According to several party insiders, the turn of events showed factions within the Karnataka Congress and such incidents are damaging to the party as it prepares for the 2023 assembly polls.