Bengaluru: After the devastating blow in the recent Lok Sabha polls when the Congress could win only one of the 28 seats in Karnataka, the party seems to be in 'free fall' with none other than Congress stalwart and former minister R. Ramalinga Reddy taking to twitter on Tuesday, to hit out at state leaders for the worst ever poll debacle.
Reddy's critical comments come barely a week after another Congress veteran and Shivajinagar MLA R. Roshan Baig blasted leaders including AICC general secretary in charge of Karnataka, K.C. Venugopal, dubbing him a 'buffoon' and KPCC president Dinesh Gundurao a 'flop show' president besides castigating Congress Legislature party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah as 'arrogant.'
In his six-part tweet, Mr Reddy launched a no-holds barred attack on leaders. Though he did not name them at any point, he did drop enough hints about whom he was targeting. Slamming the fact that all decisions were taken by a closed group, he said "a few leaders discussed among themselves and executed (plans). They neither shared nor communicated with ground level workers properly."
Mr Reddy who served as Home Minister when Siddaramaiah was CM of the previous government, tweeted, "The atmosphere is not good for seniors in the party. They have been sidelined and no priority is given to them at any level."
He added that if the Congress has to face tough situations in the coming days, it needs to take care of its seniors who have been sidelined in both the party and government.
“The party should make sure that seniors don't quit (the Congress). If this continues, it's difficult for seniors to continue in the party. Leaders should concentrate on getting rid of the imbalance in the party and government. Ministers who didn't do well in the (Lok Sabha) election should be given party work and seniors should be taken into the cabinet," he explained in his successive tweets.
Mr Reddy said that all through the Lok Sabha election, there was no co-ordination at any level in the party, be it at the grassroots level or at the top, nor was there a plan in place. "The leaders felt that someone who comes from outside will do the job for them. Moreover frontline leaders of our state as well as those who were in charge of Karnataka failed to resolve internal bickering at various levels. This is the main reason, why our party workers lost interest even before the poll campaign began. A few leaders discussed among themselves and executed (plans). They neither shared nor communicated with ground level workers properly,” he hit out.
Mr Roshan Baig, who has been issued a show-cause notice by the party for his critical comments, agreed with Mr Reddy and told reporters, “Seniors are being sidelined, we should hold a discussion on this. We can't be mute spectators to what's happening here. Senior leaders like me and Ramalinga Reddy are being sidelined. There is no chemistry between the two coalition parties."
He added that Siddaramaiah who had been constantly pushing his ‘CM Again’ campaign using his loyalists, was responsible for creating an impression that the coalition government had not really taken off.
“The state government would have done better if this campaign was not launched in the first place. We kept harping on the ‘CM again’ campaign instead of focusing on what the coalition government has really done in the last one year,” he quipped.
The outbursts by the two senior leaders come amid talk of a cabinet reshuffle to accommodate rebel Congress MLAs who have been threatening to jump ship, and avert a potential crisis.
Neither Mr Baig nor Mr Reddy attended the crucial Congress CLP meeting called recently. Some view their critical comments as a pressure tactic to ensure they are accommodated when the Cabinet rejig is done.
Sources say most of the dissidence in the Congress in recent months can be attributed to the rivalry between original Congressmen like Ramalinga Reddy and Dr G. Parameshwar and those who shifted from other parties like the JD(S) to the Congress such as Siddaramaaiah and his loyalists.
Soon after Mr Ramalinga Reddy's tweets went viral, his supporters gathered to protest at the KPCC office on Queen’s Road, demanding that their leader be inducted into the cabinet at the earliest. They also shouted slogans against state leaders.