The alliance and bonhomie in Karnataka between the Congress and HD Kumaraswamy’s Janata Dal Secular proved short-lived and now, ahead of the by-elections in the state, knives are out. Both parties have fielded candidates for Bengaluru’s Rajarajeshwarinagar assembly seat and sharp comments have been flying from both sides.
Today, it was the JDS chief and Chief Minister of the erstwhile alliance government HD Kumaraswamy, who targeted the Congress over the recent violence in DG Halli and KJ Halli areas of Bengaluru.
The violence, which took place in August, had so far provided ammunition to the BJP, with party leaders accusing Congressmen of involvement after the house of a Congress MLA, Akhanda Srinivas Murthy, was set ablaze.
Mr Kumaraswamy, who was accompanying his party candidate V Krishnamurthy for his nomination filing, said the “real picture” has now emerged.
“These Congress people are not the protectors of the citizens of this state. They are the main culprits in that raid. Now people think of that issue… the Congress is not safe for the people of Bengaluru city. I think they will take a proper decision in this election,” he added.
The traditional rivalry between the JDS and the Congress was set aside in 2018 to keep the BJP from coming to power in the state. Congress’s Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi had dialed Mr Kumaraswamy and reportedly offered him the Chief Minister’s post in an 11th-hour alliance.
Their government had collapsed last year as a chunk of MLAs had walked out. Both parties had accused the BJP of engineering the defections.
Former chief minister of the Congress, Siddaramaiah, who had accompanied his party candidate Kusuma H for her nomination, tried to brush away the DJ Halli issue.
“There may be some differences between Sampath Raj and Akhanda Srinivas Murthy and Zakir,” Mr Siddaramaiah said, referring to a former mayor and a corporator, both of whom have been questioned in the case.
But the presence of differences “does not mean that they have created this”, he said. “I am convinced – I have gone to that constituency – that because of the failure of the police, the failure of the government, that incident took place,” he added.
The violence in Bengaluru led to more than the fire at the MLA’s house. Two police stations and several vehicles were also burnt. Four people died in the violence.
The ruling BJP said the Congress and the SDPI workers were involved in the clashes that was triggered by a Facebook post, allegedly made by the nephew of Akhanda Srinivas Murthy.