Bengaluru: In a sign that the Congress Party was not going to take the rebellion spearheaded by Belagavi strongman Ramesh Jarkiholi lying down, the Karnataka Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting headed by former chief minister Siddarmaiah concluded at Bengaluru's Eagleton Resort Saturday with the party issuing two showcause notices – one to Mr Jarkiholi, and the other to his acolyte Mahesh Kumthalli of Athani.
The other two legislators - Mr Umesh Jadhav and Mr. B. Nagendra - suspected to be part of the Jarkiholi clique have escaped retribution as they had been communicating with the Congress state in charge K.C.Venugopal.
Sending a loud and clear message to the disgruntled MLAs and anyone else who wants to jump ship, CLP leader Siddarmaiah's showcause notice to both rebels is seen as the party setting the ball rolling to initiate a disqualification process against them in the days to come.
More importantly, the showcause notice, at the behest of party central leaders signals a toughening stand against MLAs who are flirting with the BJP, not just in Karnataka but in states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, where the party central leaders believe the BJP is planning to unleash its Operation Lotus as the numbers in both states are precariously close.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, a senior leader from New Delhi said, "Party central leaders were unwilling to overlook the fact that both disgruntled MLAs had remained incommunicado. This is perhaps for the first time since the rebellion started that the party has not been able to establish contact with the disgruntled leader."
“More than this, if the party does not initiate any action against these two audacious MLAs, then the message to MLAs who are fence-sitters and blackmail the party as Jarkiholi has done, will not go through that this kind of behaviour will not go unpunished. Hence, central leaders were of the view that firm action must be taken against these erring MLAs,” the leader added.
The source also said that the Congress party and a section of state leaders put all their efforts into bringing Mr Jarkiholi back on board but he reportedly remained adamant till late Saturday evening, triggering the party central leaders’ decision to issue showcause notices as a first step towards initiating disciplinary action and possible suspension, which would leave him unable to contest polls for the next six years.
Mr Jarakiholi is seen as the lynchpin of the rebellion, as he had taken the lead in orchestrating the failed coup to topple the ruling coalition government. Although he only succeeded in getting Mr Kumthalli on his side, as all the others who initially said they would be with him left him in the lurch, Mr Jarkiholi did pose a danger to the party at large that had to be nipped in the bud.
Siddu to Jarkiholi & Kumthalli: Show cause for skipping CLP meeting
In a showcause notice issued to both MLAs, Mr Siddaramaiah has sought to know from them:
1 Why have you (MLAs) failed to turn up for special legislature party (SLP) meeting that was convened to discuss present political crisis?
2 Mr Jarakiholi, you have been making statements for the last couple days which are bordering on toppling this ruling coalition.
3 Need to know reasons behind your meetings with BJP leaders openly, which have appeared in many news outlets.
4 We had informed in advance that if you (both) do not attend SLP, it would be construed as you have decided to voluntarily leave the party. (This was mentioned in our notice too.)
5 Despite our best efforts, you have not informed us anything, so, why should we not initiate disqualification process against you?...