BENGALURU: Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s statements on North Karnataka is putting the Congress under immense pressure and embarrassment. It is feeling the heat of his statements with organisations calling for a bandh on August 2 in 16 districts demanding separate statehood for North Karnataka. Sources in the Congress say that legislators and senior leaders from North Karnataka have already approached the All India Congress Committee with complaints about Kumaraswamy’s continued foot-in-the-mouth statements. Realising the repercussions this could have on the party’s prospects in the districts in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress wants to take up the issue for discussion in the next coordination committee meeting.
“While voting, they (voters) remembered their caste and money. Now, they want me to work,” said Kumaraswamy in Channapatna on Wednesday referring to farmers protesting in Koppal. This statement triggered protests by organisations in North Karnataka. This isn’t the first time the CM has made such statements. “My people have voted for me and given me the chance to become CM. Should I not give them some schemes at least,” an agitated Kumaraswamy had questioned the media when asked about his budget being pro-South Karnataka.
“Every time the CM speaks this way, he invites the wrath of the voters of North Karnataka. He shouldn’t be making such statements. Our party has a pan-Karnataka presence and such things matter. This issue needs to be addressed and coordination committee is the only venue,” said a senior KPCC functionary highlighting that none in the party can question the CM and jeopardise the coalition but the coordination committee and its chairman Siddaramaiah can question him.
While the coordination committee is likely to meet only after the Parliament session keeping in mind AICC general secretary K C Venugopal’s availability, the party, for now, hopes no more damage is done.
The JD(S) with barely any presence in North Karnataka has very little to lose by the wrath of the voters in the 16 districts. The Congress, on the other hand, is in a straight fight with the BJP. If the assembly election results are anything to go by, the Congress has already lost the favour of these voters compared to 2013 elections.
The perception of the coalition government being pro-South Karnataka is only adding to the Congress’ woes in the north region.“As a leader representing North Karnataka, I expect my Chief Minister to be the leader of the entire state. There should be no differentiation between the North and South districts. I am sure, irrespective of the party or people, Kumaraswamy as Chief Minister will treat both equally,” said senior Congress leader and MLC S R Patil. Patil was one of the first Congress legislators to raise questions of disparity in Kumaraswamy’s budget in the Legislative Council.
BANDH IS ON
The Uttara Karnataka Pratyeka Rajya Horata Samiti, which has given the bandh call, will go ahead with its plan despite the CM and Deputy CM’s appeal.