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Congress, JD(S) have ammo against BJP ahead of budget session but no gun

Riven by factionalism, Congress unable to find successor to Siddaramaiah

Congress, JD(S) have ammo against BJP ahead of budget session but no gun

Bengaluru: Ahead of the Karnataka legislature session beginning Monday, the Congress and JD(S) are in disarray. They are in no position to put the ruling BJP on the mat over a number of issues including the reduced devolution of funds on the state, the alleged involvement of revenue minister R. Ashok's son in a road accident that left two people dead, and the appointment of a tainted mining baron as forest minister.

One prime reason for this is groupism in the Congress which has reportedly affected plans to field a common candidate with the help of the JD(S) against deputy chief minister Lakshman Savadi in the Legislative Council elections. Savadi is not a member of either House at present.

The failure to find a successor to Siddaramaiah who resigned as Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader after the party's rout in the December bypolls and the tussle for the KPCC president’s post vacated by Dinesh Gundurao, have only added to the confusion within the Congress. In this situation, Siddaramaiah is expected to continue as leader of the opposition in the Assembly and CLP leader through the session.

“The inability of the high command to find leaders who can occupy the vacant posts could however come in handy for younger Congressmen like Krishna Byre Gowda and Rizwan Arshad to prove themselves and help Siddaramaiah to whom their loyalty is well known," a senior leader observed.

The session is expected to help second-generation leaders sharpen their skills in the event senior leaders choose to remain silent or not co-operate with Siddaramaiah.

The stance the JD(S) takes vis-a-vis the Congress after the break-up of their coalition in July last year will also be keenly watched. In the past there have been instances when Siddaramaiah raised a particular issue and JD(S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy deflected attention by focusing on others. "It remains to be seen if Kumaraswamy backs Siddaramaiah on every issue he takes up," a JD(S) leader told this newspaper.

Six bills are expected to be tabled during the session, including an amendment to the Lokayukta Act to allow the incumbent to recuse from a case if it involves a conflict of interest. Governor Vajubhai Vala will address the joint sitting of the Assembly and Council on the first day and the current session will conclude on February 20. It will then meet for the budget session from March 2 and the state budget will be presented on March 5.

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