While losing a seat to the saffron party in the Rajya Sabha election has further strained the ties between the Congress and JD(S), who blame each other as the ruling party’s ‘B’ team, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Saturday said the fight between the two parties has made it clear that the BJP is the ‘A’ team.
In the aftermath, JD(S) state president C M Ibrahim blamed the Congress leaders and BJP strongman B S Yediyurappa for conspiring against his party to vote in favour of their parties.
To this, Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah blamed the JD(S) for the saffron party emerging victorious in the fourth seat and questioned whether it had sufficient numbers to get their candidate elected.
Reacting to the blame game that has ensued between Congress and the JD(S) following the defeat of their candidates Mansoor Ali Khan and D Kupendra Reddy respectively, Bommai said he would neither comment nor intervene in the slugfest between the two parties. ”We are not bothered as to who is our ‘B’ team. The opposition has accepted that we are the ‘A’ team,” Bommai said.
Regarding JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy’s accusation that Congress wants to ‘finish’ the JD(S), Bommai told reporters here that he would not comment on it. He, however, said that nobody could ‘finish’ any political party, for the decision lies with the people who decide the fate of parties.
The BJP benefitted from the tug of war between the two parties and won three out of four seats in the June 10 Rajya Sabha biennial elections. The Congress and the JD(S) would have won at least one more seat had they joined hands, which, however, did not happen resulting in an acrimonious fight between them.
Asked about Kumaraswamy’s remark that Congress stalwart Siddaramaiah has a soft corner for Bommai, the Chief Minister said Siddaramaiah has targeted him more if one analyses the language he has been using against him.
The cross-voting by two JD(S) MLAs led to a slugfest with the Congress charging it of betraying ‘secularism’ and striking a deal with the BJP.
While Kolar MLA Srinivas Gowda accepted voting for the Congress candidate standing for the fourth seat Mansoor Ali Khan, whom he has huge respect for, the JD(S) high command suspected that its Gubbi MLA S R Srinivas voted for the BJP’s Siroya instead of his party’s lone candidate D Kupendra Reddy.
”The Congress struck a deal with them (the two JD-S MLAs) and Yediyurappa was also involved in this. They made one of our MLAs vote for the Congress while the other voted for the BJP. Their (Congress) secularism is exposed now,” Ibrahim told reporters replying to a query on the cross-voting.
He said he has spoken to party supremo and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda to expel the two MLAs from the party.
The JD(S) leader asked Siddaramaiah why it took away Srinivas Gowda and made him vote for Congress.
Replying to the charges made by the JD(S) leader, Siddaramaiah said, ”I will not get into those details. We had fielded a candidate from the minority community a day before the JD(S) announced its candidate. Why did they field their candidate (D Kupendra Reddy)?” The Congress stalwart said the JD(S) should have kept quiet and not fielding the candidate as their party did when Deve Gowda contested the Rajya Sabha election.
Responding to the charges made by Ibrahim questioning the secularism espoused by the Congress, Siddaramaiah said it was the JD(S), which had formed a coalition government with the BJP way back in 2006.
He also questioned the JD(S)’ support to the two controversial bills that were brought in by the saffron party. ”Who supported the cow slaughter bill and anti-conversion bill?” Siddaramaiah asked.
Digging into the past, Ibrahim also said it was the Congress, which had approached the first family of the JD(S) – Deve Gowda and former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy – for forming a coalition government in 2018 when the state witnessed a hung assembly despite the BJP emerging as the single largest party.
“Despite H D Deve Gowda’s rejection and insistence to make Mallikarjun Kharge the Chief Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ashok Gehlot went to him to make Kumaraswamy Chief Minister. Who unseated Kumaraswamy and broke the 12 of Congress MLAs?” Ibrahim sought to know.
He was recalling the rebellion by the 18 Congress and the JD(S) MLAs, who resigned from their respective parties, which led to the fall of the coalition government led by Kumaraswamy in 2019.
Following the collapse of the government for want of majority, the BJP came to power and Yediyurappa became the Chief Minister, only to resign two years later.
Reacting to this, Siddaramaiah said the JD(S) should have kept quiet and not fielded a candidate as his party did when Deve Gowda contested the Rajya Sabha election in 2020.
”Did we field our candidate when H D Deve Gowda contested the Rajya Sabha election? Why did we not field our candidate then? Because we felt Deve Gowda is a former prime minister, he should go to Rajya Sabha and BJP should not win, so we did not field any candidate against him. The JD(S) too should have remained silent like us,” Siddaramaiah said.
Replying to the charges made by Ibrahim questioning the secularism of the Congress, Siddaramaiah said it was the JD(S), which had formed a coalition government with the BJP way back in 2006.
Out of four Rajya Sabha seats for which the election was held on Friday, BJP’s candidates Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Kannada actor-turned-politician Jaggesh and Lahar Singh Siroya won, while Congress had to be content with the victory of its candidate Jairam Ramesh, a former Union minister.
During the Rajya Sabha poll for the fourth candidate, two JD(S) MLAs voted against the party’s diktat leading to the victory of BJP’s Siroya.
On the biennial elections to four legislative council seats, two teachers’ constituencies and two graduates’ constituencies, Chief Minister Bommai said the BJP has a good chance to win. ”Though Congress is expressing confidence of scoring a big victory in the Legislative Council polls, the reality is BJP has a very good chance to triumph. There is complete unity in the BJP,” Bommai said.
Stating that the BJP was getting good response in the graduates’ and teachers’ constituencies, he predicted a landslide victory for candidates Arun Shahapur and Hanumanth Nirani