Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s statement that he was “unhappy” and “was drinking poison like Vishakantha” seems to have not gone down well in the Congress with several leaders, including M. Mallikarjun Kharge, claiming that such remarks will portray the party in poor light ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Mr. Kharge said there are several pulls and pressures in the coalition arrangement and the Chief Minister should master the art of running such a regime. His desperate statement will damage the Congress’s prospects and people will blame the party for Mr. Kumaraswamy’s inability to run the coalition government smoothly, he said.

The JD(S) with its 37 MLAs has joined hands with the Congress (80 seats) to form the government. Apparently, the government has been facing teething problems since day one. Going against former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s wishes, Mr. Kumaraswamy presented the full-fledged budget. The Chief Minister’s budgetary proposals on hike in taxes on fuel prices and reduction of quantity of rice from 7 kg to 5 kg have been strongly opposed by the Congress.

Believed to have been irked by the opposition to some of the proposals and media publicity, Mr. Kumaraswamy had said: “All of you are happy because your elder or younger brother has become the Chief Minister. But I’m not happy. I’m swallowing my own pain like poison, like Vishakantha (Lord Shiva, who drank poison to save the world).” The Congress leaders said that the JD(S) has been given “amrutha” (nectar) by giving the Chief Minister’s post and plump portfolios, including Finance.

Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara said: “How can he say that? He surely must be happy. The Chief Minister has to be happy always; if he’s happy we will all be happy.”

D. Sudhakar, MLA, said Mr. Kumaraswamy should be grateful to the Congress for making him the Chief Minister. Former Minister A. Manju termed the Chief Minister’s emotional outburst as “crocodile tears”.

Meanwhile, former Speaker K.B. Koliwad blamed some Congress leaders for the Chief Minister’s unhappiness and alleged that some of them disliked continuation of the coalition government.

Speaking to presspersons here on Monday, Mr. Koliwad said: “I don’t understand why some Congress leaders are against the smooth running of this government?”

The Congress would win more seats in the Lok Sabha elections only if it joins hands with the JD(S), he said. Reacting to Mr. Koliwad’s comments, State Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao said there was no need for discussion on the former Speaker’s comments. “He (Mr. Koliwad) expressed his personal opinion. Some teething problems are common in a coalition government.”

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