ITDC INDIA EPRESS/ ITDC NEWS The growing discord among grassroots workers of the ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition widened further over Mandya, with local Congress leaders openly defying the party leadership's decision to fight the LS polls together.
Former chief minister Siddaramaiah had on Sunday convened a meeting in Bengaluru with prominent Congress leaders from the Mandya Lok Sabha constituency, including N. Chaluvaraya Swamy, Ramesh Bandi Siddegowda, Narendra Swamy and Ganiga Ravi, to contain the exploding dissent in the party over its support to the JD(S) candidate in Mandya, Nikhil Kumaraswamy, who is the son of Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.
The Congress had intended to allay the JD(S) leadership's apprehensions that some of its leaders were working against Nikhil in a bid to finish off the chief minister's political base in Mandya and elsewhere. However, the meeting failed to achieve the desired result.
The most vocal was Chaluvaraya Swamy, a former JD(S) MLA who is now with the Congress.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Swamy, a former MP from Mandya, said he will not play any role in the constituency. He also made it clear that neither he had any joint public meeting with JD(S) leaders nor did he intend to have one in the near future.
"There is hardly any time left. For the next eight to 10 days, we need to travel across the state. Can we hold meetings in Mandya alone?" Swamy said.
To a question on what role he would play in Mandya, the former MP said, "None of us have any role there. It will be improper if I say more."
Swamy, who had lost to JD(S) candidate Suresh Gowda in Nagamangala of Mandya in the 2018 assembly election, said the eight MLAs, three MLCs and the sitting MP in Mandya, L R Shivarame Gowda of the JD(S), were sufficient to carry out the work.
Swamy hinted that he was ready to face disciplinary action for his rebellion.
"The party has said that it will take disciplinary action against us. If our leaders hit us in our head, we will treat it as a blessing," he said.
Earlier in the day, CM Kumaraswamy had alleged in Udupi that a section of the people wanted to "finish him off politically" by defeating his son Nikhil Kumaraswamy.
Meanwhile, Congress general secretary and Karnataka in-charge K.C. Venugopal conceded that there were challenges in Mandya, but was hopeful that the issue would be resolved, and leaders and workers of both parties would work together in all the constituencies.