Bengaluru, May 21, 2019 : With grim predictions for the Congress in exit polls ahead of the national election results on Thursday, infighting in the party’s Karnataka unit has resurfaced with a leader, Roshan Baig, going public with a series of allegations. Using strong words against his party leadership, Roshan Baig has called KC Venugopal "a buffoon", Siddaramaiah arrogant and Dinesh Gundu Rao a "flop show", NDTV reported
"KC Venugopal is a buffoon. I feel sorry for my leader Rahul Gandhi ji. Buffoons like Venugopal, the arrogant attitude of Siddaramaiah and the flop show of Gundu Rao...The result is this," said the Congress leader.
Roshan Baig has been feeling sidelined for some time now. He had reportedly hoped for the Deputy Chief Minister’s post when the Congress-Janata Dal Secular government was formed after the assembly polls in May last year. But that post went to his party colleague, G Parameshwara.
"No seats were given to Christians and only one seat was given to Muslims in Karnataka, they were ignored. I’m upset with this, we have been used," he said.
G Parameshwara tried to be diplomatic but Dinesh Gundu Rao, the chief of the Congress in Karnataka, is clearly upset.
"It is his individual opinion. What he has felt he has expressed. It is his personal stand. The Congress President, Dinesh Gundu Rao is going to analyse it," Mr Parameshwara said.
Dinesh Gundu Rao said the party would ask for an explanation. "I think it is a sad reflection on a person like him to use such words. We will ask for an explanation from him. To speak like this in public, it shows complete lack of culture. Why is he talking after the exit poll? It is unbecoming of a politician of his stature to be speaking like this. It seems like pure political opportunism. We will take required action when the time is right," he said.
Another Congress leader, Rajeev Shukla, said Roshan Baig had been a very old leader of the party and the party would definitely address his remarks.
On Sunday, exit polls after the last round of voting for the national election predicted a win for the NDA and a majority of Karnataka seats going to the BJP. There has been speculation that the coalition government could be in trouble once the Lok Sabha results are out.
Assembly bypolls were also held in Karnataka on Sunday, to Chincholi and Kundgol assembly seats in north Karnataka. Chincholi fell vacant after the seat’s lawmaker Umesh Jadhav quit the Congress to join the BJP just before the elections. He was rewarded with the ticket for the Kalaburagi Lok Sabha seat, facing Congress veteran, Mallikarjun Kharge. Kundgol saw the death of its Congress MLA, minister C S Shivali. His wife, Kusumavathi, has been given the ticket to take on the BJP’s S I Chikkanagowdar.
In the backdrop of friction between the Congress-JDS ruling coalition in the state, the result in these seats could be interesting if the BJP manages to win them both and narrow the gap between its numbers and those of the coalition.
The BJP currently has 104 seats in the 224 seat Assembly where the half-way mark is 113. The party would hope that if it comes to power again at the Centre, there may be lawmakers who will cross over from the state’s ruling coalition to the BJP - giving it a real shot at toppling the existing government and coming to power again.
In this context, the rebellion of Roshan Baig could be significant.
The Congress’s Karnataka in charge, K C Venugopal, is expected to meet Chief Minister, H D Kumaraswamy in Bengaluru.