It seems problems for the ruling coalition of Janata Dal Secular (JDS)-Congress coalition is not going to end anytime soon in the state of Karnataka. Starting from a dismal performance in the elections which forced the two natural enemies to form a coalition in the state, to locking up their MLAs in resort in order to ensure they do not join the BJP, the Congress-JDS has done it all. H.D. Kumaraswamy, was given the post of Chief Minister by the Congress even though JDS had secured less than half the seats in comparison to the Congress. The drama did not stop here and a fight between Congress and JDS ensued over the distribution of cabinet portfolios in the government. The nightmarish task of allocating 24-25 cabinet portfolios in between 115 MLAs from two different parties is tough in itself but it became further hellish because of the greed of JDS and Congress MLAs who want the best portfolios for themselves. Congress sacrificed all it could in order to keep JDS happy but this move did not please the Congress MLAs especially the Lingayats. Stalwart Lingayat leader MB Patil who was the water resource minister in the Siddaramaiah government has been denied a cabinet position in the present cabinet. This has angered the other Lingayat MLAs and even the huge Lingayat population from Karnataka.
According to sources, the non-Lingayat lobby in Congress is the primary reason for not offering a position to MB Patil and other strong Lingayat leaders. Low profile Lingayat leaders Rajashekhara Patil and Shivananda Patil have been allotted cabinet portfolios but it is simply not enough for the Lingayat leaders and the community. MLA MB Patil had been hopeful of getting the deputy chief ministerial position and he was offended by the denial. Frustrated MB Patil rushed to New Delhi to meet Congress President in order to demand justice and fair share for his role in making of the Congress government in Karnataka. MB Patil and other Lingayat leaders had a huge role to play in Congress’ 41 seats from the Mumbai-Karnataka and Hyderabad-Karnataka regions which are Lingayat dominated. Angering the Lingayat leaders could prove to be fatal for the Congress. MB Patil’s father BM Patil had in 1972 single-handedly helped Indira Gandhi topple the incumbent government and install Devaraj Urs government of Congress. His son, M B Patil could surely do a role reversal and go against the Congress if the leadership fails to address his grievances.
BJP would be more than happy if the Lingayat leaders openly revolt against the Congress. PM Modi and BJP would welcome MB Patil and other Lingayat leaders who choose to defect from Congress. As the majority of Lingayat leaders from Karnataka are in BJP, any move against the Congress from MB Patil could shift the remaining chunk of Lingayat voters to the BJP. These voters would come in handy in the upcoming 2019 state elections. Rahul Gandhi and his failure in pacifying the Lingayat leaders have sent a clear message to the dominant Lingayat voter base in Karnataka. With no promise of cabinet portfolio and little to no chances of an upcoming shuffle in the H.D. Kumaraswamy cabinet, MB Patil is likely to openly revolt against the incumbent government. Other disgruntled ministers from the Lingayat community are bound to follow MB Patil, marking a crisis point for Congress, Rahul Gandhi and the H.D. Kumaraswamy regime in Karnataka.
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