Disgruntlement in the Congress went a notch up on Friday as at least 20 estranged legislators who were not picked to become ministers, ganged up against the party’s leadership in an almost rebellious fashion, even as top leaders made all efforts to pacify them.
Chief among them is former minister M B Patil, who declared as if to send out a strong message, that he was not alone. “Just because the Congress has dumped me, I cannot dump the Congress. But I’m not alone,” Patil said, even as Deputy Chief Minister and state Congress chief G Parameshwara tried to pacify him.
“I’m no senior or junior. All 20 of us are equals. We will soon sit together and decide what’s next,” he said. Patil clarified that they were not considering quitting the party. The disgruntled MLAs may knock on Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s doors for a way out.
M B Patil has been called to Delhi on Saturday, where he is likely to meet Rahul Gandhi. The disgruntled camp also includes veteran leader H K Patil, Satish Jarkiholi, M T B Nagaraju, R Roshan Baig, H M Revanna, B C Patil, N A Haris, Eshwar Khandre among others.
Yamkanamaradi MLA Satish Jarkiholi said he was contemplating resignation. “I’ve been unable to become a minister myself, or help others to become one. I’m not confined to my constituency. I have supporters all over the state,” he said.
“I will hold more consultations and I’m thinking of resigning (as AICC secretary),” he said in Belagavi.
“All of us have the same grievance,” Haris, who represents Shantinagar, told DH. “As far as I’m concerned, the party should have given me an opportunity. The leadership should have taken a clear stand that those who were ministers before will not be made ministers this time. But then, you have included those you want.”
Revanna, who belongs to Kuruba community, trained his guns on former chief minister Siddaramaiah, also a Kuruba, who has camped in his Badami constituency away from all the action. “The community demands answers. When Vokkaligas and Lingayats could be accommodated, why not us (Kurubas)?” Revanna asked. “Siddaramaiah is the leader of the Congress Legislature Party and the coalition coordination and monitoring committee. He has a role to play, but he isn’t here.”
Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, who personally reached out to M B Patil by visiting his residence, said his coalition partner should act fast to quell disgruntlement.
“I heard Patil out and listened to his anger. But there’s nothing I can do. Only the Congress can fix this. I came to pacify him because we share a personal relationship. My work is limited to conveying to the Congress high command that they need to take remedial steps immediately,” Kumaraswamy said.