Congress, JD-S call for end to verbal sparring in Karnataka


Bengaluru, May 20 Ahead of the results for Karnataka's 28 Lok Sabha seats on Thursday, the warring Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) ruling allies in the state on Monday called for a 'ceasefire' amid acrimonious remarks against each other by leaders of both parties.

"I appeal to the leaders of both the parties to refrain from making any controversial remarks or commenting in the public or to the media against each other," tweeted Congress state unit chief Dinesh Gundu Rao in Kannada here.

Rao's appeal came a day after Congress President Rahul Gandhi directed the party's state leaders, ministers and legislators to refrain from criticising their counterparts in the JD-S.

Expressing concern over charges and counter-charges between leaders of both the allies over the last fortnight, Gandhi told the party's state unit leaders in New Delhi that they should work with the JD-S in the spirit of coalition dharma and prevent any threat to the year-old coalition government in the southern state.

"I request you all to maintain cordiality with the JD-S leaders, including its Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, its supremo H.D. Deve Gowda and others as the coalition government has to sustain and serve the people of the state," Gandhi told party leaders.

Besides Rao, the party's legislature leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara and Congress state unit in-charge K.C. Venugopal met Gandhi to ensure there won't be any adverse impact on the coalition government after the parliamentary poll results on May 23.

In a pre-poll arrangement, the allies fielded joint candidates in all the 28 seats, with the Congress in 21 and the JD-S in seven seats across the state for the elections that were held in two phases on April 18 and April 23.

Reciprocating the Congress' move, JD-S state chief A. H. Vishwanath said there was no threat to the coalition government from the leaders of his party or from the outcome of the Lok Sabha election in the state.

"The coalition government will continue to work for the people under Kumaraswamy's leadership for the full term as agreed by Gandhi and Deve Gowda after the May, 2018 Assembly election gave a fractured verdict, leading to a post-poll alliance and formation of the Congress-JD-S government on May 23 last year," Vishwanath told reporters at Mysuru, about 150 kms from here.

Kumaraswamy too tweeted that his government would continue and complete its full five-year term in 2023.

"Rahul Gandhi has directed all our leaders, ministers and legislators to avoid making controversial remarks or statements against the JD-S leadership and the functioning of the coalition government," said Rao citing Gandhi's stern warning to comply or face action.

With various exit polls predicting a majority (20-23) of the Lok Sabha seats for the rival BJP in the state and five to seven for the ruling allies, the leaders of both the parties, including Cabinet ministers and legislators have been told to refrain from saying anything against each other when the allies are trying to form a non-BJP government at the Centre with the help of other opposition parties.

"As the prospects of a secular and progressive government coming up at the Centre after the election results on Thursday are bright, it is imperative that we work together and show our unity," said Rao.

Simmering differences between the allies surfaced when two Congress ministers and 10 Congress legislators claimed Siddaramaiah was their leader and wanted him to become the Chief Minister again in place of Kumaraswamy.

Blaming Siddaramaiah from failing to rein in his loyalists who did not accept Kumaraswamy as Chief Minister, Vishwanath had said the top executive post was not vacant and that the Congress had lost the Assembly election under Siddaramaiah's leadership.

Kumaraswamy also reacted to the clamour of the Congress leaders by saying that its senior Dalit leader Mallikarjun Kharge should have become Chief Minister long ago but was denied the opportunity for reasons best known to Congress leaders in the state.

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