Special Correspondent

Kharge-Krishna meeting gives rise to speculation on change of guard

Bangalore: Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh on Saturday hit back at his detractors in the Congress and said it is only the Congress High Command that can take a decision on a leadership change in the State.

Sources in the Chief Minister's secretariat told The Hindu that there was no discussion at any level, including the party high command, on leadership change in the State and that the Chief Minister is in constant touch with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, particularly after the terrorist attack on the IISc.

Mr. Singh's outburst was largely owing to the long meeting between Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President Mallikarjun Kharge and Maharashtra Governor and former Chief Minister S.M. Krishna.

Several former Ministers who have serious reservations against the continuance of the coalition Government in the State also called on Mr. Krishna, and reports had it that the discussions largely centred on the performance of the Congress in the recent panchayat elections and the need to impress upon the party high command to opt for mid-term elections. A section of the Congressmen has been in favour of continuing the coalition arrangement but with a change of Chief Minister.

The Chief Minister, who was apparently perturbed by a section of the Congressmen making a beeline to Mr. Krishna whenever he is in Bangalore, hit back and said matters such as a change in the leadership are looked into by the party high command and not in any house in Bangalore.

After his meeting with Mr. Krishna, Mr Kharge dismissed reports on a change of leadership as speculative and said that a change of leadership is not on the cards. There is no need for a change of leadership at the present juncture, he said.

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