Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Sunday said his government was at the mercy of the Congress and that he could not do anything without their permission. “If I have to do my job as the chief minister, I have to take permission from the Congress,” ANI quoted him as saying. “Without their permission I cannot do anything.”
The Janata Dal (Secular) leader said that he had requested the people to give him a mandate that would prevent him from succumbing to any other party’s pressure. “But today I am at the mercy of the Congress,” he said. “I am not under the pressure of the 6.5 crore people of the state.”
Kumaraswamy told reporters that he would step down if his government fails to waive farm loans, PTI reported. “I am one step ahead of you [the Bharatiya Janata Party] to work for the farmers,” he said. “You need not have to ask me for my resignation over farm loan waiver. If I fail to do that, then I myself will resign from the post. Farm loan waiver is my priority.”
The chief minister sought a week’s time to convince Janata Dal (Secular)’s alliance partner, the Congress, to announce the loan waiver. “Can’t you [the BJP] wait for a week?” he asked. “Even the Cabinet has not been formed yet.”
His comments came a day after the Opposition party called a state-wide strike on Monday to demand immediate waiver of farm loans, reported The Times of India. However, the strike did not elicit much of a response. Schools, colleges, and public transport services functioned normally, NDTV reported.
BJP state President BS Yeddyurappa, who had said on Saturday that the party would observe a strike if the loans were not waived within two days, changed tack and claimed that the BJP had only supported “a voluntary bandh call” by the farmers, The Hindu reported.
The BJP, in a tweet, said the chief minister did not care about the people of the state. “A democratically elected chief minister could not have stooped much lower than this in deriding his own people,” the party alleged. “One can only imagine the kind of loot he will preside to impress his Congress bosses.”
Union minister DV Sadananda Gowda asked Kumaraswamy if he would put his interests ahead of those of the people of the state.
Farmer leader Kodihalli Chandrashekhar, however, told The New Indian Express that they would not support any shutdown. He said the decision to observe the strike was taken by BJP leaders without consulting farmers. “We are meeting in Bengaluru on May 31 and a decision will be taken,” he told the daily.
Kumaraswamy admitted that the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition was not on the same page over a few portfolios. “They [Congress] want the finance ministry,” he said. “We are still discussing who gets what. It is common that disagreements take place, but we will arrive at a common ground.” The two parties have already decided that the Congress will get 22 portfolios and the JD(S) 12.
Meanwhile, Kumaraswamy met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on Monday, reported ANI.