Crucial Congress meet today, all eyes on Siddaramaiah to end crisis

Sunday is a big day for the Congress that hopes to resolve the Belagavi impasse with the return of Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah from a 12-day Europe tour.

Published: 16th September 2018 04:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th September 2018 04:12 AM   |  A+A-

Karnataka ex-CM Siddaramaiah (File | PTI)

By Express News Service

BENGALURU:  Sunday is a big day for the Congress that hopes to resolve the Belagavi impasse with the return of Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah from a 12-day Europe tour. Within hours of his return, Siddaramaiah is likely to get into action to defuse the crisis that is threatening to rock the coalition government.  For the first time after the current upheaval in the party, Siddaramaiah along with All India Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary K C Venugopal will meet the party leaders to take stock of the situation.

Siddaramaiah, who has been the party’s crisis management man, is being looked at as the last resort to calm the storm brewing in Belagavi that has already passed on to Ballari.  And he may see this as an 
opportunity to reassert his own position in the party, said sources.

The meeting assumes significance as Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi and his brother MLA Satish Jarkiholi are seen as Siddaramaiah camp followers. The Jarkiholi brothers are unhappy with the party leadership after facing a setback in the Primary Land Development (PLD) Bank elections in Belagavi following Belagavi Rural MLA Laxmi Hebbalkar’s candidates winning the polls to the top posts.

On Sunday, Siddaramaiah is expected to meet the Jarkiholi brothers and KPCC working president Eshwar Khandre before sitting with Venugopal and other senior leaders of the party.  “A few issues are still unresolved and only Siddaramaiah can resolve them. He is our leader and we will discuss all the issues with him once he returns,” Ramesh Jarkiholi had said a few days ago.Sources close to Siddaramaiah said that the Jarkiholi brothers spoke to him over the phone during his Europe trip to apprise him of the situation. Siddaramaiah is said to have assured the brothers that all their problems would be addressed.

While the official agenda of the meeting is discussion on bypolls to Karnataka Legislative Council and change of guard in office-bearers in the district units, issues raised by the Jarkiholi brothers, dissent of Ballari MLAs and alleged attempts by BJP to lure Congress MLAs will be discussed.

“None of our MLAs will join the BJP. We trust our legislators. BJP has been attempting to lure them. There is no threat to the coalition government,” said Venugopal. He is said to have been waiting for Siddaramaiah’s return to take up the issues bothering the JD(S)-Congress coalition government.

Sources from the Congress suggest that despite their best attempts, Jarkiholis, especially Ramesh, have not been successful in mustering enough numbers to be able to dictate terms. “Their only demand will now be to ensure that minister D K Shivakumar doesn’t interfere in the matters of Belagavi and Ballari,” said a party source. 

Their requests are likely to be taken up by Siddaramaiah and Venugopal. Shivakumar is currently the district minister for Ballari and MLAs from the region are displeased over lack of representation from the cabinet district. A change in guard is likely to be effected once the cabinet is expanded in the last week of September. Venugopal brushed aside all speculation of delay in cabinet expansion and said that as per the coordination committee’s decision, the expansion will take place before this month-end.
Cong to give 1 seat to JD(S)

Sources in the Congress suggest that of the three vacant seats in the Legislative Council, it will field two candidates and allow JD(S) to field one. The coalition partners will follow the same 2/3rds share patterns it has put into practice to share cabinet berths and boards and corporations. The coordination panel of the coalition government in its previous meeting had decided to face the polls to collectively challenge the BJP. 

BJP leaders K S Eshwarappa, whose term ends on June 30, 2020, and V Sommanna June 14, 2022, and Congress’ G Parameshwara whose term ends on June 30, 2020, resigned from the Upper House after they were elected to the Legislative Assembly. The Congress-JD(S) combine hopes to stall the BJP from electing even a single MLC to the Upper House.

DKS, 3 others get bail in I-T case
Bengaluru: The Special Court for Economic Offences on Saturday granted bail to Medical Education and Water Resources Minister and Congress leader D K Shivakumar and three others in connection with a criminal case registered by the Income Tax Department for alleged evasion of tax and filing of false tax returns. The court, however, imposed conditions that the accused should furnish A 25,000 cash surety and execute bonds for A 1 lakh each and not tamper with evidence. 

20 IPS officers transferred
 In the wake of the political slugfest over attempts to topple the  coalition government allegedly by BJP using “mafia” money, the government on Saturday effected transfers of 20 IPS officers, including officers in the Anti-Corruption Bureau, the  Lokayukta and  Intelligence Department. Alok Mohan, ADGP, ACB, has been posted as ADGP (Railways), while Sanjay Sahay, ADGP, Lokayukta, has been moved to the Police Computer Wing. Changes have been made in the Bengaluru City Police too.

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