Ahead of the winter sessions in the Karnataka Assembly which is set to begin on October 10, Congress party on Wednesday (October 9) appointed former chief minister Siddaramaiah as the leader of the opposition.
In a statement released late on Wednesday, K.C.Venugopal, AICC general secretary and Karnataka in-charge announced the decision and also made S.R.Patil, Siddaramaiah’s close associate as the leader of opposition in the legislative council.
Effectively, Siddaramaiah ceases to be a member of the Congress Working Committee. Despite opposition from senior Congress party leaders in the state, the high command’s decision shows the importance of the leader from the old-Mysore region.
After the fall of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government, many had accused Siddaramaiah of destabilising the HD Kumaraswamy led government and were hoping to see him removed as the CLP leader.
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However, at a time when Congress faces difficult times across the country, and the BJP at the state level fears losing the power battle with discontent within the party, Siddaramaiah, may bring the much-needed change for the Congress.
The party hopes to gain strength in the bypolls to 15 Assembly seats that fell vacant after the MLAs resigned from the Assembly in July.
With the BJP holding a minority government and requires to win at least eight of the 15 seats in the bypolls in December, Congress hopes to dent the chances of the saffron party.
However, the BJP is leaving no stone unturned. The party on Wednesday appointed disgruntled party leaders in some of these Assembly segments as head of boards and corporations only to make way for the rebel MLAs who helped the party to come to power.
Some of the MLAs who resigned were loyalists of Siddaramaiah. Despite his repeated requests, they failed to heed to his demand and led the coalition government’s fall. This opportunity could give him a chance to take revenge against his loyalists, now friends turned foe.
Siddaramaiah, who was once a JD(S) leader, rose to power in the Congress at the cost of his former party. This has caused a lot of bitterness between the two parties since he fell out with JD(S) supremo and former PM HD Deve Gowda, as the latter oversaw the growth of his son Kumarasawmy at the cost of senior leaders like Siddaramaiah in the mid-2000s.
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Besides, the Congress-JD(S) leaders who fought against each other in the old-Mysore region for almost 14 years, did not come together for the Lok Sabha elections. This resulted in both parties getting only one seat each of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka.
Siddaramaiah kept the BS Yediyurappa led BJP government on the tenterhooks ever since it came to power. He kept accusing the Centre of not releasing funds on time and the party diverted people’s angst in the North Karnataka region towards the Central leadership. He kept accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah of clamping down on Yediyurappa’s freedom and blamed the latter for remaining mum on burning issues in the state.
The winter session that beings on Thursday (October 10) will see a heated debate on Finance bill, flood relief measures and on BJP’s decision to give tickets to disqualified MLAs in the upcoming by-polls.