When the Janata Dal (Secular) and Congress cobbled together a coalition government in Karnataka a month ago, Opposition leaders danced and sang paeans to their unity. From across India, a dozen leaders flew to Bengaluru to consummate the alliance. They exulted over a mahagathbandhan they claimed the alliance would herald to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party when India goes to polls in 2019.
Outgoing Congress chief minister Siddaramaiah and JD(S) head honcho HD Deve Gowda — long-time sworn enemies — hugged and smiled for the cameras. But few were fooled, and one question remained upfront: What would Siddaramaiah do after losing the chief minister’s post to Gowda’s son HD Kumaraswamy in an unexpected spin of fortunes?
Siddaramaiah answered that question on Sunday by way of a “leaked” video of his confabulations with a few Congress MLAs. In the clip —there is no reason to doubt its authenticity — he flings barbs at Kumaraswamy for deciding to present a full budget instead of a supplementary one and for going ahead with his promised waiver of farm loans. There is no need for both, according to Siddaramaiah, who says he had already presented the 2018-19 budget and waived farm loans to some extent. This is ample proof, if proof is needed, that the former chief minister is in a vile mood to take on the Gowda family once again to settle old scores.In another video “leaked” on Tuesday, Siddaramaiah expressed doubts about whether the Congress-JD(S) coalition would last beyond the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
On his part, Kumaraswamy is not taking things lying down. He made it clear that nothing could stop him from presenting a full budget and waiving loans. “I am not at the mercy of anybody,” the Karnataka chief minister said.
In the taped conversations, Siddaramaiah was careful to not take potshots at Congress President Rahul Gandhi. He even advised MLAs against holding secret pow-wows against the party. This hints at the possibility that his camp may have deliberately leaked the tapes to make it clear that his quarrel, at least for the time being, is with Gowda’s “appa-makkala paksha” (father-son party) and not with the Congress high command.The BJP is not content with just enjoying the show from the sidelines. The grapevine is, once again, abuzz with rumours that the party is waiting to have another go at forming a government with defectors. After a quick visit to Ahmedabad to meet BJP chief Amit Shah, state unit president BS Yeddyurappa only said.