Karnataka: Cracks appear in the coalition as the Lingayat card continues to haunt Congress

In a new development in Karnataka, at least two MLAs from Congress have threatened to resign from the party, if the Congress party decides to make M B Patil a minister in the present coalition government.

The MLAs from Indi and Basavana Bagevadi Yeshwanthraygoud V. Patil and Shivanand S. Patil threatened to resign if M.B. Patil was even considered for a Ministerial post. M B Patil, who was earlier a minister in Siddaramaiah government, is believed to be one of the main conspirators of the Lingayath issue. The Congress had taken a decision to give minority status to Lingayat community which was a disaster in terms of electoral politics. They lost almost half of the seats compared to 2013 elections in Lingayat dominated areas.

The decision also led to the loss of three out of four ministers, which seems that it was a move which backfired for Congress. It is clear that Congress party wants to resign this disaster to M B Patil, as he was strongly supporting the minority tag for Lingayats. This is one of the reasons why many Lingayat leaders hold him responsible for the party’s defeat in the recent elections. They have urged the present coalition government to keep him away from the power structure or to face resignations from the party ahead of a trust vote.

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There has been intense lobbying from both Congress and JDS for ministerial berths in the present government. Congress party is demanding two Deputy CM posts and reports suggest that JDS is not ready for that. D K Shivakumar, one of the most powerful leaders of Karnataka Congress is also lobbying for the post, but the JDS is not keen on that. Amidst this confusion, a Muslim faction had also demanded the post to be given to that community. As there are considerable MLAs from the Lingayath community, they too have demanded the Deputy Chief Minister post for the community.

The elections to 222 seats of the legislative assembly in Karnataka went to elections on May 12th. BJP emerged as a single largest party with 104 seats, while the Congress and JDS emerged winners in 78 and 38 seats respectively. The Congress-JDS coalition is headed by H D Kumaraswamy of JDS and the Deputy CM and speaker posts to be given to Congress. There are inherent contradictions in the alliance as the two parties had bitterly campaigned against each other in the recent elections. It is to be seen that whether this ‘opportunistic alliance’ will complete its term or break amidst of their infighting.

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