Why the Siddaramaiah factor cannot be ignored by the Congress-JD(S) coalition
Former Karnataka Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah may look like the villain of the Karnataka coalition, but the fact is that the Congress cannot ignore him. In veiled threats, several Congress leaders have dismissed the former CM's statements on the longevity of the coalition, but behind the scenes all efforts are on to pacify him.
Siddaramaiah has been completely opposed to a full budget being presented and also the farm loan waiver, the two points that the Janata Dal(S) has stuck to. Siddaramaiah at the coordination committee meeting had put his foot down and said that there was no requirement for a full budget.
A few days later a video of Siddaramaiah stating that he doubted if the coalition would complete its five year term surfaced and this threw the coalition into a tizzy. Siddaramaiah however was not clear in the clip, why he felt that the government would not last. His statements led to a series of reactions from the likes of Mallikarjuna Kharge and D K Shivakumar who said however senior anyone is, they should not go against the party. Kharge even argued that Siddaramaiah's statements will have no bearing on the government.
In the midst of all the confusion, at least 12 leaders of the Congress visited Siddaramaiah who is undergoing detox treatment at the SDM College of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences. He will return to Bengaluru today. The leaders who called on him said that it was a courtesy call.
What is interesting is that those who called on him are his staunch supporters. This is something that the Congress cannot ignore and if Siddaramaiah wishes, he could lead at least 15 MLAs out of the coalition thus reducing it to a majority. The statement by MLA B Narayanrao made it clear that Siddaramaiah is someone the Congress could not ignore.
He said that the coalition would find it hard to survive, if the Congress ignores Siddaramaiah. He however said that the government would survive, but under the guidance of Siddaramaiah.
The joint legislature session will be held on July 2, while the budget would be presented on July 5. All eyes would be on the session and what would be more important is how Siddaramaiah and his followers would handle it.
For now, the Congress is in no mood to take Siddaramaiah on. They are aware that several leaders in the party still attribute their victories to him. Moreover there are several of his followers who are disgruntled over not being accommodated in the Cabinet. These are factors that would weigh heavily in the mind of the Congress and all attempts would be made to pacify him.
While there is a chance that Siddaramaiah may be pacified, the fact that he is the chairman of the coordination committee, which oversees major decisions of the government. Being a former JD(S) man who left the party on a bitter note, it is unlikely that he would give in so easily to the demands made by H D Kumaraswamy and his father Deve Gowda.
The Congress would find this hard to deal with and replacing Siddaramaiah from the post, is too big of a risk the party can take now. While the budget would be presented on July 5, there is a crucial coordination committee meeting scheduled for July 1.
The meeting in the existing atmosphere would be a crucial one as it would look to iron out the differences between the two parties. Prior to the meeting, the two parties would prepare a draft of the Common Minimum Programme which would be placed before the coordination committee.
While Siddaramaiah is the head, the other members who are part of the committee are H D Kumaraswamy, Dr. G Parameshwar, K C Venugopal and Danish Ali, who is the convener.