'Resign and Go': Siddaramaiah's Irritation Shows Congress Was Never Really Serious About Saving Govt
The alliance was doomed from the start and some Congress leaders are only too happy that a bad marriage with the JD(S) has ended.
Former chief minister Siddaramaiah with Congress MLAs in Karnataka Assembly on July 23, 2019. (PTI)
Bengaluru: It was around 10pm. JD(S) and Congress MLAs were seeking one more day for the trust vote, while BJP legislators were insisting on holding the vote the same night.
Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and deputy chief minister G Parameshwara were not present in the House. Some Congress and JD(S) MLAs were standing close to Congress Legislative Party leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah's chair, discussing the strategy.
Microphones captured a visibly irritated Siddaramaiah's words - rajeename kottu hogalu heli’ (ask him to resign and go).
His words have now given credence to claims that the Congress was not really serious about saving the coalition government since the beginning. After Kumaraswamy lost majority, it was business as usual for most Congress leaders and some even expressed joy over the end of a bad marriage.
A senior MLC, who did not wish to be identified, said, "The alliance with JD(S) has ruined us. The party is in a bad shape in old Mysore region. Our workers feel that the alliance benefitted only the Gowdas and a few Congress leaders like DK Shivakumar. Majority of our leaders wanted to end the coalition immediately after the rout in Lok Sabha elections. It had to happen one day. We are actually relieved now.”
After the assembly elections in May last year delivered a fractured mandate, outgoing chief minister Siddaramaiah was forced by the Congress high command to back the JD(S)-led government just to keep the BJP away from power. He reluctantly agreed, but was not comfortable with the Gowdas since day one because of past incidents.
Many others were also of the same view. Congress leaders and workers in the old Mysore region were terribly upset over the alliance and some even openly revolted, claiming the Gowdas will “finish” them eventually. The trust deficit was so high and the Gowdas always viewed Siddaramaiah with suspicion.
Both JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda and son HD Kumaraswamy had expressed their displeasure in public on many occasions. Kumaraswamy even cried in public alleging that the Congress was not allowing him to perform.
According to some Congress MLAs, Siddaramaiah had promised that he would do something after the Lok Sabha election results. But the results were so shocking for both that they decided to stick together to protect their common interests.
The BJP, which had failed six times in the past, was looking formidable after the Lok Sabha results and decided to make an attempt one last time.
Not much convincing was needed this time as many Congress and JD(S) MLAs were worried about their political future. Without wasting much time, they boarded a flight to Mumbai and went completely incommunicado.
When it was clear that the Kumaraswamy government had lost majority, Siddaramaiah entered the field to persuade the MLAs to come back to the party fold. But, it was too late for him. According to his close aides, even he was helpless as some of his closest MLAs refused to listen to him.
Eventually, even he threw in the towel.
Only DK Shivakumar, who had excellent rapport with the Gowdas, tried his best to save the government till the last minute, taking a big personal risk. But he did not have the backing of many in his own party.
Rahul Gandhi's resignation as the Congress chief and the vacuum at the top also made the BJP's job much easier.
The Congress will now be sitting in the opposition and Siddaramaiah is likely to lead the party in the Assembly.
The big question is whether the Congress-JD(S) alliance survives or continues. Many in the Congress are not in favour of it. The same applies to the JD(S). And that is good news for the BJP which is batting on a sticky wicket with no majority.
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