Cong steps up efforts to quell internal dissent in Karnataka

Congress in Karnataka Wednesday stepped up efforts to quell the internal discontent triggered by a faction of MLAs led by minister Ramesh Jarkiholi, who is locked in a turf war with another minister D K Shivakumar, casting a shadow over its coalition government with the JDS.

Ramesh and his brother Satish Jarkiholi whose dissident activities have caused trouble to the three-month old Congress-JDS coalition, have camped in Bengaluru meeting senior party leaders.

The leaders include state congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao, deputy chief minister G Parameshwara and Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge.

The Jarkiholi brothers are upset over Shivakumar allegedly trying to challenge their supremacy in Belagavi district through MLA Laxmi Hebbalkar.

The siblings were made to accept the candidates of the Hebbalkar camp in the recent Primary Land Development Bank's elections, which has reportedly infuriated them more.

The internal tussle has spilled into the open with the Jarkiholi brothers assertion about the support of eight MLAs and that they were in touch with the BJP fuelling speculation about the stability of the H D Kumaraswamy government.

"We do have our own faction and factionalism is found across all the parties. Our faction is of like-minded people. Factionalism existed before and will continue to remain in future too," Satish Jarkiholi told reporters here.

He also said, "we were always with the party and we are not dissidents. However, our group is of seven-eight MLAs and we will remain together.

We have faith that seniors will resolve the issues. I met Dinesh Gundu Rao to discuss how to stop this because suchnegative coverage in the media damages the party. Rao hassought two days' time to discuss the matter," he said.

He clarified that he had not discussed the issue with congress general secretary, Karnataka-incharge, K C Venugopal.

Ramesh Jarkiholi, the municipal administration minister, ruled out the possibility of quitting Congress.

Speaking to reporters here, he said, "There is no question of my quitting the party.I am very much in Congress.

I met Mallikarjun Kharge, who is a father figure to me. I explained the situation to him. I have full faith in our seniors who will set things right."

Deputy chief minister G Parameshwara termed reports about government collapsing a speculation.

"The stories that government will collapse is all speculation. Yesterday Ramesh Jarkiholi had contacted me. Hehad given some suggestions. There were no such things like make me minister or else I will topple the government," he said.

Parameshwara did not elaborate what the Jarkiholi brothers had demanded.

The Jarkiholi brothers have reportedly told the state leadership that they would brook no "inteference" from "outsiders" in their district and asked for key post for Satish, who was a ministerial aspirant.

Speculation is also rife in political circles that the Jarkiholi brothers were making the current moves at the behest of former chief minister Siddaramaiah, with whom they are close, to contain Shivakumar's influence.

Sensing trouble for the coalition government, the BJP has been holding meetings with its party MLAs, amid reports that it was in constant touch with the Jarkiholi brothers.

BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa met party MLAs at his residence Tuesday to discuss the future course of action borne out of dissidence in Congress.

BJP MLA from Honnalli seat and a confidant of Yeddyurappa, M P Renukacharya said the government would not survive and would fall soon.

The Congress has accused the BJP of hatching a conspiracy against the coalition government.

Dinesh Gundu Rao warned the BJP "not to stoop low" as it will also face the same consequences.

"We are not ready to stoop to their level.If they try to trouble our MLAs or poach on them, we will be forced to givethem a befitting reply.

I warn the BJP leaders that we are notready to indulge in such activities (of poaching MLAs) and wedon't need it but you give up your dirty politics," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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