Even as the Congress party in Karnataka struggles to set its house in order by keeping its senior leaders together and building its fight for its arrested leader DK Shivakumar, it’s coalition partner Janata Dal (Secular) seems to be fighting a different battle.
On one front, there’s infighting within the party while there are speculations of a handful of MLAs joining the ruling BJP. On the other side, cases against the party leaders are piling up.
In further trouble for the JD(S), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has now registered a case into an alleged illegal phone tapping case. Former JD(S) president AH Vishwanath and the Bharatiya Janata Party had accused then chief minister HD Kumaraswamy of misusing the audio tapes of the calls to blackmail rebel MLAs who had defected to the BJP.
Besides, a local court in Bengaluru has also issued summons to the former chief minister in an illegal land de-notification case.
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While these two cases put former prime minister HD Deve Gowda’s family on the backfoot, the discontent among senior leaders like GT Devegowda are adding fuel to the fire.
The bonhomie that GT Devegowda — who has expressed discomfort with his party colleagues — shares with BJP leaders has put the JD(S) in disarray.
Last week, in a sarcastic remark, Devegowda said that he was happy to have not found a spot in the party hierarchy. He added that his time in the Kumaraswamy cabinet was full of pain and suffering. On several instances, he had also expressed unhappiness with his higher education portfolio.
The JD(S) leader is known for defeating former chief minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah from the Chamundeshwari constituency in the previous Assembly elections.
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Now, he is at loggerheads with the party leadership over the upcoming bypolls in Hunsur constituency. While the HD Deve Godwa family wants GT Devegowda’s son Harish to contest the upcoming bypolls from Hunsur, Devegowda feels he should be fielded from his (Chamundeshwari) constituency instead.
Besides, the JD(S) is also wary of making any changes to the party posts since speculations are rife that a handful of its MLAs might defect to the BJP by November. However, JD(S) state president HK Kumaraswamy has denied the rumours, and Devegowda and Vishwanath have declined to comment.
Meanwhile, leaders from both the parties, JD(S) and Congress, have been hinting at a possible split of the coalition after the Lok Sabha poll debacle and the fall of the Kumaraswamy government.
Responding to a question on being blamed for the fall of the government in the state, Siddaramaiah had made a sexist and offensive reference to the JD(S), saying, “A prostitute who can’t dance complains about the dance floor.” However, after JD(S) workers raised the issue, he quickly retracted his statement and said it was directed at the BJP.
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The Congress and the JD(S) have been engaging in such war of words since the Lok Sabha polls debacle, blaming each other for the defeat.
While Kumaraswamy in an interview to a regional news channel blamed Siddaramaiah for the defeat saying he treated JD(S) as its major enemy and that it led to a misunderstanding in the coalition, Siddaramaiah responded by saying that it was the JD(S) which considered him as an enemy.
“They should have accepted me as their friend and taken me into confidence as an ally,” Siddaramaiah had told reporters in Mysuru. He had further claimed that the JD(S) leadership, in a bid to weaken the Congress, attempted to project him as anti-Vokkaliga.