Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy today threatened to quit as he reacted furiously to questions on lawmakers of alliance partner Congress lawmakers criticising him and saying they considered former chief minister Siddaramaiah as their chief minister. The Congress must control its lawmakers as they are "crossing the alliance line", Mr Kumaraswamy fumed. "If they want to continue with the same thing, I am ready to step down. They are crossing the line," Mr Kumaraswamy told reporters, not hiding his exasperation.
On Sunday, two Congress lawmakers had launched an all-out, public critique of the Chief Minister and charged that no development had taken place in the seven months on Mr Kumaraswamy's watch.
Congress legislator ST Somashekar went as far as to say that there would have been "real development" if Mr Siddaramaiah had got another term. Another Congress leader, minister C Puttarangashetty, said, "Only Siddaramaiah is my chief minister".
Mr Kumaraswamy, asked to respond to the provocative remarks, said: "Congress leaders have to watch out for all these issues. Congress leaders must think about all these things and control them... They are crossing the alliance's line. This is not going to affect me but Congress leaders only."
Siddaramaiah was chief minister until May last year, when the Congress and Janata Dal Secular formed a coalition to keep the BJP out of power after a fractured verdict in the Karnataka election. He was present when the Congress leaders made the comments and seemed to agree as he said he would have completed development work if he had another term.
Today, Mr Siddaramaiah, who now heads a coalition coordination committee, said: "You (media) are the people who create trouble. You ask one person, then second person and then third person. There is no trouble, I will speak to HD Kumaraswamy." Mr Siddaramaiah has been bitterly opposed to the Janata Dal Secular leadership since he quit the party in 2006 and joined the Congress over the sudden rise of Mr Kumaraswamy, former prime minister HD Deve Gowda's son.
The Chief Minister may not be too happy also at the words of his own deputy, G Parameswara of the Congress. "Siddaramaiah has been the best Chief Minister. He is our Congress Legislature Party leader. For the MLAs, he (Siddaramaiah) is the chief minister. He has expressed his opinion. What is wrong in that? We are all happy with him (Mr Kumaraswamy)," Mr Parameswara said.
The Congress's Karnataka president said the lawmakers had committed a self-goal. "Development is taking place. Kumaraswamy is our chief minister. What Somashekhar said is not acceptable. He will have to explain or face action," said Dinesh Gundu Rao.
The Chief Minister's outburst follows days of turmoil within the ruling Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress alliance, which has repeatedly expressed the fear of their lawmakers crossing over to the BJP and the coalition collapsing just months before the national election due by May.
In an attempt to stanch rebellion, the Congress checked its lawmakers into a resort near Bengaluru. The ruling coalition accused the BJP of attempting a coup by luring Congress lawmakers.
The BJP insisted that the coalition was trying to mask its own instability and insecurity by accusing it. The party's BS Yeddyurappa, also a former chief minister, sequestered all BJP lawmakers at a resort near Delhi. "Siddaramaiah and his supporters in the party are training guns at HD Kumaraswamy. There is intense war going on between Siddaramaiah and Kumaraswamy. To hide this from public glare, they are indulging in some drama of MLAs being wooed by BJP. The fact is this coalition is internally unstable," said the BJP's GVL Narasimha Rao.