Friday, 21 September 2018

The Once Blue-Eyed Boy Of Congress In A Tight Spot From Outside And Within

The political turmoil within the Congress in Karnataka seems to have come to an end – at least for the time being, following an intervention from Congress President Rahul Gandhi and the revolting Municipalities Minister of the state, Ramesh Jarkiholi, announcing that he had no plans to quit the Congress. 

But the looser in this much hyped battle for more power appears to be Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar, who reportedly was asked to be reigned in and controlled to appease the Jarkiholi brothers of Belagavi region by non-other than Rahul Gandhi. According to reports, the Congress President issued a strict directive to state leaders to immediately resolve the crisis so that the Jarkiholi brothers are appeased. 

DK Shivkumar shot into prominence as a Congress leader even outside of Karnataka after he orchestrated the safe stay of Congress MLAs from Gujarat during the election to a Rajya Sabha seat from the state featuring Congress leader Ahmed Patel – believed ot be very close to the Gandhi family. Shivkumar had arranged for the safe stay of Congress KMKAs from Gujarat in a Bangalore resort to prevent them from being poached by the BJP before the voting. The Congress managed to hold on to their MLAs and Ahmed Patel won the prestige battle after a night long drama. 

It was since then the Shivakumar had shot into prominence within the Congress for his ability to arrange for a safe place and hold MLAs or MPs together. He is still seen as amongst the most ‘resourceful’ Congress politicians in Karnataka. 

But he is apparently currently under a lot of pressure both from within his party as well as from the BJP.  Lodged in a Bangalore hospital with complaints of food poisoning, Shivakumar was informed about the decision of the Congress high command which evidently was in favour of the Jarkiholi brothers. There are some within the Congress who reportedly feel that his contribution to the party has been over looked as far as this episode is concerned. The Jarkoholi brothers were peeved with Shivakumar and had alleged that he was meddling into internal politics of Belagavi which has been a bastion for the Jarkiholi brother for over two decades now. Congress sources have been quoted as saying that Rahul Gandhi has directed the Karnataka leaders to ensure that a rebellion like the Jarkiholi brothers does not happen in the state before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and asked the leaders to see that the Jarkiholi brothers remain satisfied. 

On the other hand, the BJP, who had sniffed a whiff of a chance to get back to power in the state riding on the Congress feud, have been left high and dry at least for now. It is being alleged that the party – ion connivance with the Union government, is putting pressure n Shivakumar by reopening a year old case by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) . A money laundering case against Shivakumar and his associates have been filed by the ED a few days ago on the basis of an alleged tax evasion and hawala transaction case from a year ago.  The case by ED against Shivakumar and his associate Hanumanthaiah was filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), and a chargesheet or a prosecution complaint that was filed by the I-T Department against him early this year. The allegation of the I-T Department was the Shivakumar and his associate SK Sharma had transported unaccounted cash on a regular basis through 'hawala' channels with help of the three other accused.

While Shivakumar gas denied the charges and said that this is a political witch hunt by the BJP using the central government agencies, the BJP has alleged the involvement of the Congress high command in the case. A BJP spokesperson in New Delhi called for the Congress leadership to respond to the alleged "confessional statements" made to the Income Tax Department associates of Shiakumar where they confessed that the money trail through the hawala network led to the Congress Headquarters. 

Given the circumstances that Shivakumar – who was Congress’s blue eyed boy not long ago, hinds himself in, his fate within the Karnataka Congress and state politics remains to be seen. 
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Item Reviewed: The Once Blue-Eyed Boy Of Congress In A Tight Spot From Outside And Within Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Farhan Rasheed
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