Siddaramiah, DKS, Karnataka
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah with his deputy DK Shivakumar

Karnataka Congress pacifies disgruntled MLAs with Lok Sabha in mind

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In an unprecedented step in Karnataka politics, chief minister Siddaramaiah and his deputy DK Shivakumar met frustrated Congress MLAs to sort out their grievances which some had aired publicly, embarrassing the new state government.

The Monday-to-Wednesday meetings with some 90 of the new elected MLAs saw Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar, who also heads the state Congress unit, patiently sit through as one legislator after another poured out his woes.

At the end of it all, most MLAs appeared to be content if not overjoyed with the outcome after having let out their simmering anger directed mostly against district in-charge ministers.

The chief minister and his deputy promised the MLAs that some of the complaints would be addressed soon but the Congress needed to keep the focus on sweeping most if not all the 28 Lok Sabha seats the next year.

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The BJP, ousted from power in the state in May, won an incredible 25 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka in 2019, majorly contributing to its national tally to give Prime Minister Narendra Modi a second consecutive term.

Persuading MLAs

Both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar said what was of primary importance was to ensure that the five guarantees the Congress gave to the electorate only months ago needed to be kept – so that the party can make an electoral killing next year.

The MLAs were unhappy over not being allotted any grants for developmental works in their constituencies. They were told that the Centre’s stance had led to financial constraints for the time being.

The chief minister assured the MLAs that their recommendations for the transfers of police and other officials in their constituency will be acted upon.

Other demands and suggestions from the MLAs were listened to and listed for action.

Also read: Kharge stamps his authority with Delhi meet of Karnataka ministers

The face-to-face discussions involved MLAs from some 20 districts.

It all began when some MLAs including BR Patil, Basavaraj Rayareddy and Vinay Kulkarni wrote a letter to the chief minister listing their complaints. This was leaked on social media, embarrassing the Congress as well as the chief minister.

Congress in action

Both Congress president Malliarjuna Kharge and party leader Rahul Gandhi took up the matter seriously.

They summoned a meeting in Delhi with all 34 ministers including the chief minister and his deputy. They were urged to resolve the issues of the disgruntled MLAs at the earliest.

An MLA told The Federal that the three-day meeting was successful and now the goal is to secure more Lok Sabha seats from the state and to prepare the grounds in their respective constituencies.

Also read: Siddaramaiah lucky to be CM twice, leaving behind old guard: Congress MLA

Other MLAs said the chief minister wanted the entire Congress team to remain united to get into action for the next Lok Sabha election.

The chief minister gave instructions to the district in-charge ministers to resolve the issues of the MLAs without undue delay.

“The CM has promised to respond to our problems,” one MLA said. A few legislators, however, still seemed unhappy.

Siddaramaiah promises

The chief minister assured the MLAs that the issues they have raised would be taken up on a priority basis.

Shivakumar is planning to reach out to the people through not only the MLAs but also through the defeated MLA candidates and other leaders to prepare the ground for the Lok Sabha election.

He has told the party workers to reach out to every household in their area and speak about the five guarantees the Congress government is implementing – with an eye on the Lok Sabha battle ahead.

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