Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Meeting between Karnataka minister, state Cong chief sparks speculation

A meeting between Anand Singh, a minister in the BJP government in Karnataka, and state Congress chief D K Shivakumar at the latter’s residence here on Monday has sparked speculation, amid recent claims by the opposition party leaders that some ruling party leaders, including ministers, were in touch with them.
The Minister for Tourism, Ecology and Environment in the Basavaraj Bommai-led cabinet, driving to the KPCC chief’s residence in a private car has raised eyebrows in political circles, especially the BJP. However, speaking to reporters, Shivakumar and Singh said they had met regarding a tourism project in the Congress leaders’ assembly constituency.
“I had seen Tunga aarti. Aimed at developing tourism in our constituency, I had requested for a programme to be worked out so that similar aarti can be organised at the sangam (confluence) of Cauvery and Arkavathi rivers near Mekedatu in my constituency. He (Singh) has said that he will send a team,” Shivakumar said.
Speaking to reporters, while rejecting all political speculation in connection with the meeting, he said, “He (Singh) is a minister. If he has come openly to my house, how can he come with a political motive? No one will do that. Politics is done either at hotels or guest houses, not at home.”
“All of us have that much common sense… I am a senior leader. He personally came to explain about the proposed programme. There’s nothing else,” he added. Singh too later in the day, speaking to reporters, said Shivakumar has himself already clarified about the reasons behind the meeting and there nothing more for him to add to it.
“While I was on my way back from my brother-in-law’s place, Shivakumar called me to discuss the project, as I was passing nearer to his residence, he called me to visit his house for discussion. Other than this, there was nothing else,” he said, as he in response to a question also clarified that he has no discontent regarding appointment of district in-charge Minister.
According to reports, Singh is unhappy with the chief minister’s decision to appoint him as district in-charge minister for Koppal, instead of newly-carved Vijayanagara district, which is his native.
The recent claims by Congress leaders, including Shivakumar and legislature party leader Siddaramaiah, that some legislators and leaders from the ruling BJP are in touch with them and may jump ship ahead of 2023 assembly polls, has given rise to speculation about Singh’s today’s move.
Meanwhile, not wanting to respond about the meeting between Singh and Shivakumar, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said, “….you have to ask them (about it).”
Singh had last year openly expressed his disgruntlement, as Bommai allocated him the Environment, Ecology and Tourism portfolios, and he had not taken charge as the minister for long, in want of a “better” portfolio.
He had finally relented after persuasion by the Chief Minister and BJP state leadership.
A four-time MLA, Singh was among the 17 legislators who had quit the Congress-JD(S) coalition and had joined the BJP in 2019.

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