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Speculations of a tussle within the Karnataka Congress -- and a possible rebellion -- resurfaced this week after Congress Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) from Belagavi, Satish and Ramesh Jarkiholi met Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on September 18. According to reports, the brothers requested Kumaraswamy to keep Congress leader and state minister DK Shivakumar out of politics and administrative affairs of Belagavi region. In an interview given to the Deccan Herald, Satish said, "When two strong political leaders enter the battlefield, there is bound to be a clash." However, apart from Satish, Ramesh and Shivakumar, Belagavi Rural MLA Lakshmi Hebbalkar, a close associate of Shivakumar, is also reportedly a part of the tussle. Ramesh has accused Shivakumar of meddling with affairs in Belagavi through Hebbalkar, who reportedly transferred local officials loyal to Jarkiholi brothers out of Belgavi district. Earlier in September, Ramesh began seeing efforts by Hebbalkar to gain control of the Primary Land Development Bank in Belagavi, a report by The Indian Express suggests. Ramesh had said that while the brothers were not angry with the party, they were disgruntled and that "anything can happen in the next 15 days." "We have our own faction. There have always been factions in the Congress. We have always been a part of the Congress. We have seven to eight MLAs with us," Ramesh said.
In a day packed with high political drama, Saturday saw rumours running thick and fast about some “rebel” MLAs of the ruling coalition being lured away to a resort outside the State by the Opposition BJP to bring down the government, and the Congress and JD(S) rubbishing them as “false” and “malicious”. Rumour mills began to spin early in the day after a video of Congress MLAs K. Sudhakar and M.T.B. Nagaraj, both aspirants for Cabinet berths, and Independent MLA for Mulbagal H. Nagesh travelling out of the city together going viral. This set off speculation that they were headed to a resort in Mumbai via Chennai and some others (who remained unnamed) were already there. However, sources within the Congress said that some MLAs were trying to mount pressure on the coalition partners ahead of the Cabinet expansion exercise. Both the ruling parties have decided to expand the Cabinet only after the Legislative Council polls on October 4. Sources said that the party is unlikely to bow down to such pressure tactics. Later in the evening, both Congress and JD(S) senior leaders dismissed all rumours of any legislator changing loyalties.
The Karnataka politics is witnessing big drama following the assembly elections results. Even though BJP has emerged as the single largest party in the polls, Congress and JD(S) have come together beat BJP in numbers to form the government in Karnataka. Both the BJP and JDS-Congress combined met the Governor and stake claim to form the government in Karnataka.
Yeddyurappa B. S.
Anant Kumar Hegde
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