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Congress dissidents keep up revolt, HDK attempts damage control

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BENGALURU: The dissidence that erupted in the Congress after formation of the Kumaraswamy ministry, continued for the third day on Friday, prompting chief minister H D Kumaraswamy to break all conventions and reach out to dissident former minister M B Patil for peace talks.

The Congress high command, which had allowed dissident activity by disgruntled former ministers to drift for two days, woke up to the situation and summoned M B Patil to New Delhi for talks. After day-long discussions with other unhappy Congress MLAs, Patil left for New Delhi.

Simultaneous meetings happening in the residences of M B Patil and former minister from North Karnataka H K Patil, backed by senior party MLAs Shamanur Shivashankarappa, C S Shivalli, MTB Nagaraj, K Sudhakar, N A Haris and B C Patil, besides former ministers R Roshan Baig and Ramalinga Reddy among others, seemed to have rattled the party leadership. The target of attack of all these people was DyCM G Parameshwara, for having scuttled their political careers.

This prompted Kumaraswamy to dash to M B Patil’s house in Sadashivanagar. “I know it is an internal matter of the Congress and I have nothing to do with it. But I have met him as head of the coalition government. Patil is not alone and there are 15-20 MLAs with him. I will speak to the Congress high command to put an end to it at the earliest,” Kumaraswamy told reporters after the meeting.

Sources said M B Patil is a family friend of the Gowdas. “He went to meet Patil to tell him not to get upset and that everything would be set right,” they added.

Patil said: “Kumaraswamy has nothing to do with our party matters. But when he said he was coming to meet me, could I say no? My only demand is that I should be made DyCM.”

He ruled out quitting the party if his demands are not met. “The Congress may have dumped me. But I will not dump the party.”

Meanwhile, AICC general secretary K C Venugopal telephoned H K Patil and reportedly assured him that he would be inducted into the cabinet. “Even if you give me an assurance, I am not sure if I will take it up now,” sources quoting H K Patil said.

In Belagavi, former minister Satish L Jarkiholi, whose brother Ramesh L Jarkiholi was inducted into the cabinet, said he would resign from the AICC secretary’s post. “They see me as a threat, which is why I was left out,” he added.

Parameshwara was booed by M B Patil’s supporters when he went along with ministers D K Shivakumar, R V Deshpande and K J George. While entering and exiting Patil’s house, Parameshwara had to face angry supporters, who raised slogans against him and tried to gherao him.

“I am being made a villain for no fault of mine. The cabinet composition was decided by the high command and all the state leaders, and not by me alone,” an upset Parameshwara reportedly confided in some Congress leaders in private.

Former CM Siddaramaiah’s statement in Badami in support came as a boost to the dissidents. “It is natural for anyone expecting to be taken into the cabinet to get agitated when it does not happen. I have spoken and pacified them,’’ he maintained.

According to a senior minister, the induction of actor Jayamala from the legislative council, who will not become leader of the House, and Independent MLA R Shankar, is said to be the trigger for the dissidence. “If the party leadership wanted Kuruba representation, there were eight others, why did they have to go for Shankar, who was former deputy mayor of BBMP,” Congress sources said.

The dissidents are mainly miffed at glaring imbalances in the cabinet in terms of caste and region representation, and feel that the Lingayat, Kuruba and Valimiki communities got a raw deal. While only two Lingayats from the Congress have got cabinet berths, Valmiki and Kuruba communities have got just one berth each.

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